The Atlanta Falcons selected Minnesota defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman with the #37 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Hageman is, in my humble opinion, a deeply worthwhile pick at this point. A projected late first rounder, Hageman has terrific size and strength and the kind of pass rushing chops that are rare in a defensive tackle. As a 3-4 end in those looks and a defensive tackle in nickel packages, Hageman has a real chance to impact the game.
There are questions here, chiefly with motivation, character and consistency. While those are three words you never want to see attached to a prospect, the Falcons have taken a rare gamble on a player with every tool he needs to succeed, but legitimate question marks. Whether he realizes his potential will depend on his desire to succeed and Bryan Cox's coaching, but clearly the Falcons strongly believe in both.
Bottom line, Hageman is a versatile, useful piece in the Falcons' new-look defense who could become the best interior pass rusher this team has had since Rod Coleman. I recognize not everyone's going to be excited, but I truly believe he could be special.
Where does he play? We'll talk about that more tomorrow, but chances are he'll be an active part of the defensive end and defensive tackle rotation, likely pushing Tyson Jackson off the field on third downs. Let's hope he realizes his promise.
One note I missed earlier: He is 24 years old. The Falcons will hope he's productive immediately.
Top Remaining Needs:
- Free Safety
- Inside Linebacker
- Running Back
- Wide Receiver
- Tight End
- Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
- Ra'Shede Hageman, DT/DE, Minnesota