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.

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McShay projects Hageman as late first-round draft pick and Vereen as a late-round selection

Posted by: Joe Christensen under Gophers post season Updated: December 19, 2013 - 11:02 AM

ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay held a conference call Thursday morning, and I asked him about two Gophers -- Ra'Shede Hageman and Brock Vereen. Here's a snippet of what McShay said:

On Hageman: "Overall this year, I thought it was his best season. ... He made more big plays. He wasn’t an elite sack guy in college football, he only had two sacks, but he had 11 tackles for a loss, he had that one interception.

"Really the NFL draft is about projecting the next level, and to me, he’s got a chance to be a better pro than he was a college player. He’s so tall and kind of just starting to figure it all out, and when it comes to leverage, and being able to take on blocks and being able to disengage and go make plays.

"There aren’t many guys who are built like him – 6-6 and 310 – and can move like he does, so there’s a high ceiling there and it’s really promising to me that he got better this year.

"If it’s not late-first [round], it’ll probably be early second, but I really think at this point, if everything goes well between now and the draft, Hageman’s got a good chance to go in the first round."

On Vereen: "He’s one of the guys that you create a list throughout the course of a year, in terms of guys who are playing better than the year before, and warrant the time to sit down and do a full film evaluation, and he’s one of those guys.

"But in talking to a couple scouts, one guy who works in the North and another guy who has Big Ten country, both guys have mentioned him as a guy who has improved and probably a Day 3 pick [Rounds 4-7], and a guy who can do multiple things, and help you in terms of your versatility and roster."

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