Atlanta Falcons five breakout players of 2015 – #1


Today, we conclude our “Falcons 50” countdown to kickoff. We started 50 days before the Atlanta Falcons’ season opener and conclude today, on game day. Here is the Falcons’ top breakout candidate for 2015.

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50″ posts here.

The “Falcons 50” countdown has reached it’s conclusion. We have been counting down the Atlanta Falcons’ top five potential breakout players for this season, which is fitting for the final few days of the offseason. Who is at No. 1?

No. 1 – Ra’Shede Hageman

“The Shede” is ready to crush a few man’s souls this season. The defensive lineman was highly touted out of college but everybody knew he had to go through some work before reaching his potential. The construction will be coming to an end rather sooner than later.

You probably remember Ra’Shede Hageman’s struggles through his first training camp with the Atlanta Falcons. It was featured on HBO’s documentary Hard Knocks. The second round pick out of the University of Minnesota showed how far he was from professional play, even though he disclosed some lightnings of his potential here and there.

His college career was very promising in the middle of the defensive line with the Golden Gophers. Hageman is the definition of a raw talent. He is physically gifted like a few players in the league. However, there were issues around his game that needed work. The second-year player needs to play better and with more consistency with his hands, maneuvering offensive linemen. He also needs to know how to read opposing offenses.

Hageman is progressing game after game, year after year and the main craftsman is named Bryan Cox. The defensive line coach already said at the time the franchise drafted Hageman, that he took the player under his wing. They developed along their path together a strong relationship and it comes to fruition on the field on gamedays.

Indeed, at the end of last season, Ra’shede Hageman displayed improvement in his play. His impact was getting more and more noticeable on the field. He ended up the season with 12 tackles and one sack without even starting any game. He is set up to be a starter in 2015 inside a much stronger defensive line.

Great news. The Minnesota alumni appeared at this year’s training camp even bigger – if it was possible. He gained muscles over the offseason and took the shape of a mountain, without loosing his speed and explosiveness. It is scary. Better news? He showed his improvement during the preseason training sessions, scrimmages and games – Hageman is ready to take over.

Is he going to be a bright spot in this year’s defense? Of course. Hageman has shown what he can do under Dan Quinn’s coaching staff. He is primed for a huge year and will not be alone on the defensive line. Vic Beasley and Adrian Clayborn are now on his sides, the veteran presence of Jonathan Babineaux continues to help him and Paul Soliai is another player that will eat up space.

The future is bright for “The Shede”. Watch out.

Next: Falcons vs Eagles: Full game coverage

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