A year ago, the Falcons used Tyson Jackson more as a defensive end on the strong side, with Ra'Shede Hageman primarily playing in the middle. This year, those two are effectively switching.
Falcons Ra'Shede Hageman making a position switch. https://t.co/uCUm0dqZvM— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) May 16, 2016
Hageman has shown flashes of terrifying power in his first two seasons in the NFL, outright dominating offensive linemen at times. The problem is that he hasn't done so consistently, and with Grady Jarrett emerging, Jonathan Babineaux and T-Jax kicking around, and Derrick Shelby potentially kicking inside
This potentially opens Hageman up for more work when the team isn't in a nickel defense, which McClure notes will probably feature Adrian Clayborn, Grady Jarrett, Derrick Shelby, and Vic Beasley. With Dan Quinn valuing rotations and tweaking his lineups, we have no idea exactly how much Hageman is going to play, but his power may play better at end, and if it does he could find himself earning more snaps.
For his part, Hageman has a healthy attitude toward the year ahead and this change.
"I feel like every year is the most important," he said. "This is my third year. I’m not one to sit here and brag and talk a bunch of words. It’s about my actions. I have to get it done on the field."
Jackson, meanwhile, will return to arguably his most natural position on the interior of the defensive line, though he may kick outside on occasion if injuries or ineffectiveness strike anyone else. Expect him to get some work in non-nickel situations aside Jarrett and (at times) Babineaux, though he still has to make this team before he can do much of anything. I still think he will, for what it's worth.
We'll see how he and Jackson fare, but I'm hopeful Hageman will flourish in the new role. How about you?