Will Ra’Shede Hageman finally break out in 2016?
Back in 2014, the Atlanta Falcons were going through a new makeover by transitioning the team’s defense into more of a 3-4 defense. Former defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, along with assistant GM Scott Pioli, made a strong push for players like Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai to help establish plays who could fit into the new defensive scheme and help with run-support. Still with these new pieces the team was still desperate for a pass-rusher.
After drafting OT Jake Matthews, it seemed certain that the team would take an edge player would could help boost the team’s pass rush. The team hasn’t had a true pass-rusher since John Abraham and in a draft filled with talented edge players many expected the Falcons to select at least one of them. Instead the team selected the mammoth defensive end Ra’shede Hageman from Minnesota.
At 6-foot-6 318 pounds, waves across the NFL were made to believe that team was committed to creating a new scheme and invested heavily into their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball. Hageman would be the one of few cornerstones in developing a tougher, more physical defense that would help place the Falcons back on top of the NFC. It actually seemed that the team would rebound from their disastrous 2013 season but things didn’t turn out the way many expect for both the team and Hageman.
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Fast forward three years later and we’re still looking for Hageman to turn into the productive player he could become. Not to say that he hasn’t been a quality starter but with only two sacks and seven tackles for loss to his career its hard to say that he has been very productive. Listed as a defensive end for the past two seasons, Hageman has actually played most of his career as an interior lineman which may be one of the mistakes that both Dan Quinn and Mike Smith created. Luckily for us, Dan Quinn doesn’t put leave issues to play out like Mike Smith or by letting “The Process” play itself out.
Quinn has made the adjustment to for Hageman to succeed at a higher level because of the their base under defense which will allow Hageman to win one-on-one battles with more undersized left tackles. Along with his 6-foot-6 frame and powerful build, he has the physical tools that keeps coaches in amazement but can he put all of the tools together is the question?
Hageman’s production over the past two seasons have been close to mediocre than superb. Some may assume that his lack of playing time during his rookie season may be the result of lower stats but even after a full season as a starter there hasn’t been much impressive. I
f the Quinn and defensive coordinator Richard Smith could somehow build individual matchup for Hageman then maybe he could help contribute as a pass rusher on regular base downs. Tyson Jackson and Jonathan Babineaux seem to take over at the 3-technique position along with Grady Jarrett and Joey Mbu seem to be the leaders at the 1-technique spot. Hageman would only be required to be on the field on run downs with Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby rotating on passing downs.
One of the worst things to happen to NFL players is being a new regime that didn’t fit them into their gameplan. Not to say that Hageman wouldn’t fit into Quinn’s defense but it is difficult for coaches to fit players into new scheme that they inherited from the last coaching staff. With the team being loaded with versatile linebackers and multiple linemen, Hageman needs to show coaches that he can thrive under the defensive system at a better position at the end spot which allows him to create havoc with a physical abilities.
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Will Hageman become the player we want him to be or will become another draft flop during the Dimitroff era?