When the Falcons took Ra’Shede Hageman in the second-round in the 2014 NFL Draft, they knew he had the potential to become something special. Watching some of the training camp practices, the second-year player looks to be in incredible shape. We all saw in the show “Hard Knocks” that Hageman was big and did not have a great football mentality. 2014 was last year, and things have obviously changed. Hageman has made improvements both on and off the field in the last year and looks to be in incredible football shape.
New coaches such as Dan Quinn and Richard Smith have found a way to get to Ra’Shede Hageman. People saw flashes of his potential last season in the limited snaps he saw. Hageman would create penetration and open up more holes for the Falcons defensive lineman. He didn’t pile up the stats, but he made plays that would create opportunities for his whole defense.
Hageman was asked by the media in June about what they can expect of him. He said he used to play at 320-325 pounds last season, but he knew he had to cut weight for his overall health. Hageman also said that this is now his job, and it looks like he is taking every bit of being a professional football player seriously. Another reason Hageman could be taking the next step as a player, the defensive scheme is switching back to a 4-3.
Hageman has always played in a 4-3 defense, so fans definitely saw him go through some growing pains in Mike Nolan’s 3-4 defense. He also was very limited in seeing playing time, as Nolan and Mike Smith were never very confident in Hageman’s abilities. Quinn and Smith will want Hageman to be disruptive in the backfield, as the defensive line will now get off the ball. He will likely be lining up at the 3-technique this season, the outside edge of the offensive guard.
The sky is the limit for Ra’Shede Hageman in becoming an NFL superstar. He may not, but he can keep developing into a player like Muhammad Wilkerson, the star defensive tackle from the New York Jets. Seeing Hageman lose weight isn’t just a sign of lost weight, it is a sign that he is serious about bettering himself and the team. Going back to the 4-3 base defense is something that will benefit most of the defense, but especially Hageman. Watch out for this second-year player this upcoming season. Hageman did not just overcome the physical part, but he looks to have hurdled the mental part so far. He might not be starting the first game, but the Falcons are starting to groom this young man into the starting defensive tackle of the future.