Each Sunday we'll examine a potential draft pick for the Eagles -- first round or otherwise. Today we'll take a look at physical defensive tackle out of Minnesota.
Height/Weight: 6-6, 311
If looks could kill, Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman would be a top-10 pick in this year’s NFL draft with his extraordinary size, athleticism and natural skill set. But, despite his prowess for being a physical freak and shining during Senior Bowl week last month, what could keep Hageman from reaching his draft stock ceiling is his lack of consistency and focus.
The consistency and focus that Hageman lacks on the field can be corrected with a strong coach who has cultivated a positive, winning environment at the next level. However, finding that positive environment hasn’t always been easy for Hageman.
As a young boy, Hageman (born Ra’Shede Knox) was raised by his biological mother, who struggled with substance abuse, which led to him being in and out of a dozen foster homes before being adopted at the age of seven by a Caucasian couple, Eric Hageman and Jill Coyle. The adoption gave Hageman the stability he needed to be successful and ultimately helped him become a highly touted tight end recruit out of high school.
Hageman began his career at Minnesota as a tight end but was quickly converted to the defensive side of the ball during his redshirt freshman year. During his four-year playing career at Minnesota, Hageman flashed extreme dominance and the ability to take over games in the trenches, as he finished his career with 91 tackles, 24 for a loss, 10 sacks and an interception.
The intrigue surrounding Hageman will only increase when he performs at the scouting combine later this month, as he’s expected to test extremely well. With a standout performance on the field and during one-on-one interviews with NFL personnel, Hageman could be an attractive prospect to many teams selecting in the 17 to 25 range, which includes the Eagles.
Hageman is one of the most athletic and versatile defensive linemen in the draft and has the ability to play multiple positions along the defensive front. Possessing incredible attributes and a desirable frame that still has room for growth, Hageman is a scheme diverse defender who flashes uncanny explosion off the line of scrimmage and can be a disruptive force in the backfield.
He’s extremely fluid for a man of his size showcasing rare agility, coordination, flexibility, leaping ability and range. He uses his hands and wingspan to his advantage at the line of scrimmage and generates a burst and powerful punch against the opposition, sheds blocks, shows awareness, impacts the passing lanes and is a tenacious tackler. He’s viewed as a high-risk, high-reward prospect, but he’s truly a special physical specimen, and in the right system, could develop into a trench terror in the NFL.
A high-risk, high-reward prospect such as Hageman is not something many NFL decision makers place a first-round value on, because in the end it’s just risky business. Even though Hageman has the talent of a potential top-10 pick, his tremendous physical ability doesn’t match his performance on the field, and that’s a problem. He tends to run hot and cold and play smaller than his measurables suggest.
He must work on his technique; play lower and with more leverage. He exposes too much of his frame when he gets off the line and allows the opposition to gain an advantage. He doesn’t possess a large repertoire of pass-rush moves and relies on his natural gifts. He appears disinterested and frustrated at times and will need a coach who can motivate him. He turns 24 in August, and that could turn off teams that prefer a younger prospect in the opening frame.
How he’d fit with the Eagles
The Eagles' defensive front was a strong point this past season, and this promising young group led by the emergence of Fletcher Cox, Cedric Thornton and Bennie Logan will only get better.
Selecting a defensive lineman with the 22nd pick isn’t a high priority, but adding more depth off the edge or a bigger, stronger interior force at nose tackle would provide defensive coordinator Billy Davis with more options, and Hageman is a name to keep an eye on.
He would give the Eagles another lineman with great length who can impact the game at the line of scrimmage. Not to mention, he can be stout inside and command the attention from the opposition that will make others around him better.
He isn’t your prototypical nose tackle prospect with his long frame, but he’s shown the ability to play the position and possesses great strength and can create havoc inside. If he’s still available when the Eagles are on the clock, he could be too tempting to pass up.
Prospect reflection: Jared Odrick (Penn State), 2010: First round (28th overall) by Miami Dolphins
Draft projection: First round (top 20–30)