Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman has had two quiet games for the Gophers, since I spoke to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay, who had moved Hageman from a potential third-round pick to No. 22 overall on his last of top 2014 NFL draft prospects.
Today, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., held a conference call, so I spoke to him about Hageman's stock. Kiper had Hageman ranked No. 21 on his Big Board two weeks ago, but has since dropped him out of the Top 25.
The 6-6, 311-pound Hageman, who often gets double-teamed, and rotates in and out of each game quite often, registered just one tackle against Indiana and Penn State. He did swat down another pass against Penn State. For the season, Hageman has 29 tackles, including nine tackles for a loss and two sacks, in addition to seven pass breakups.
Here's what Kiper said today:
"He flashes [his potential] is what he does. Of course, you see glimpses of the big-time ability he has. He’s got incredible talent from a physical standpoint, and he can run. I’ve seen him pursue the sidelines and run like a linebacker, and he’s a big kid. I mean, this is a kid who’s got enormous potential. You coach him up in the NFL, improve his technique, and certainly in a rotation situation, he can be a very good player.
"I think he’s probably a second-round type of player now. He was on the Big Board; I took him off because obviously you don’t see that type of consistency from the first to the fourth quarters and the dominant performances like some of the other guys like say an Aaron Donald at Pittsburgh, who has 19 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.
"You’ve got guys out there that are just really taking over games, and [Hageman] hasn’t been able to do that on a consistent basis. But the flashes are enough, the physical ability. I think with the combine, when you stack him up against the other defensive tackles, I think it could put him in the second-round mix."
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