Heading into the 2013 College Football season, Ra’Shede Hageman was seen as one of the premier prospects because of his scheme flexibility both as a 4-3 DT fit and a 3-4 DE fit. Hageman didn’t disappoint and has proven to show all the raw tools that can succeed. What Hageman needs to do now is work on refining his game and becoming the star player that he can be. Below I’ll take a look at Hageman now and what he does well and needs to improve on.
Usually I talk about technique in regards to each specific part of a players game, but with Hageman I felt it was necessary to just discuss it in an overall perspective. Hageman is someone who has a ton of ability, but right now his technique is just poor. It’s almost as if Hageman knows he has brute power, and relies on it too much instead of learning how to use technique to beat his opponent. The biggest issue with Hageman now is his leverage he plays with. Hageman almost stands straight up out of his stance and can lead to him being pushed out of plays all too easily for someone his size. Hageman shows hand usage, but it’s still quite raw and undeveloped. When Hageman uses his hands, he displays a good initial punch, but doesn’t do much outside of it and relies on his power and strength to finish off plays. All of these comments aren’t a critique on Hageman that he can’t improve and develop on; it just shows how much he needs to improve to reach the potential that he can reach.
Hageman in run defense is pretty effective, but at the same time has concerns and it stems from the initial concerns with his technique. Hageman in run defense still is a bit of a guesser on where the ball is going to go, and will fire through the gap which he expects it to be. This ends up being an issue because he’ll completely take himself out of the play early. When Hageman guesses correctly he makes a big time play, or he’ll disrupt the play enough to let another teammate make the tackle or big play. Hageman plays with better leverage here than he does in pass rush scenarios, but still gets too high out of his stance. When Hageman plays low in his stance, he does a very good job of working to take on double teams and make plays or allow others to do so. When single teamed and playing with correct leverage, Hageman will be an absolute dominant force. In a lot of ways Hageman is a ball of clay for coaches to work with because of the raw ability there is to become a dominant force.
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When in comparison of run defense and pass rushing scenarios, it’s quite apparent that pass rushing is a downside to Hageman currently. What’s really the main catalyst about it is that Hageman doesn’t have much pass rushing moves and relies just on a power move to make the play. While it’s effective now, in the NFL offensive guards and tackles aren’t going to be fooled by it and will be able to stop it. Hageman as well plays with poor leverage in pass rushing especially from the interior where he tends to basically stand up and try to pass rush against his opponent. As for hand usage, Hageman has a very violent first punch when he uses it correctly, but at the same time he just seems to flail his arms and not really use any set moves against his opponent. I see Hageman as someone who can be an Aaron Smith type DE in a 3-4 defense, but at the same time he will need to develop more pass rushing moves in order to become similar to what Aaron Smith was. If Hageman can develop a better technique in pass rushing, then he could become a truly impressive 3-4 DE similar to what Aaron Smith had been for a long time of his career.
So what does this all mean for Hageman? Well, Hageman is someone I’d have a hard time taking in the 20’s and after my film study I’d be hard pressed to take him in the 30’s range as well. While an enticing project and someone who can become a star player, the inconsistencies and technique deficiencies are such that keep me away from wanting to take him earlier. If a team were to take Hageman around the 50’s range and work with him slowly, then it could be a very effective pick. I currently have a mid-2nd round grade on Hageman, and love what he can bring to the table, but I also don’t know just how good he can become because of just how raw he can become.