Summary: After a few years as a Big Ten doormat, the Minnesota program has been on the rise the past two seasons. Hageman was a big reason why as the Golden Gophers' best player. He was the tone-setter for their defense as he caused a lot of disruption at the point of attack. Hageman physically overwhelmed Big Ten offensive linemen with his size, strength and quickness. More than any player, he led the way for Minnesota football to be relevant in the Big Ten and make it back to a bowl game.
Hageman broke out with an impressive 2012 season. The junior totaled 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, two passes broken up, one forced fumble and six sacks. Hageman saw his share of double-teams in 2013, but he still recorded 38 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, seven passes broken up, one interception and two sacks.
At the Senior Bowl, Hageman had a solid week of practice. He continued to show that he has the power and quickness to beat offensive linemen. Hageman had a lot of success in the one-on-ones and did his part to solidify a first-round grade. In Mobile, WalterFootball.com spoke with Hageman about why he went back for his senior year; graduating was his priority.
"I knew I was coming back. I wanted to finish school," said Hageman. "That was the most important thing, with football. At the end of the day, football is not a long-term job, so I had to plan for the long term and graduate."
Not only is Hageman an intelligent and serious player, the team that drafts him is going to get a beast at the point of attack. He is extremely strong and is able to hold his ground while getting double-teamed. Hageman can occasionally beat double-teams by using his strength to shed blocks and then his quickness to cut between linemen. He has a devastating bull rush and the speed to close when he gets free. Hageman is able to shed blocks and make plays in and out of his gap. He is a superb run-defender who can contribute pass rush.
Hageman is obviously well rounded, but he could stand to get more consistent. Hageman can take over games at times, but also has some quiet stretches. For the NFL, it would probably help him to improve his conditioning.
Hageman has great versatility for the NFL after playing a wide variety of techniques at Minnesota. He could play 4-3 defensive tackle and even some left defensive end in heavy sets. Hageman would be a great fit in a 3-4 defense because he has the ability to play defensive end or nose tackle. Hageman is a good fit as a five-technique (defensive end) or zero-technique (nose tackle).
With his good tape, production, skill set and versatility, Hageman looks like a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Justin Smith. Hageman is bigger than Smith (6-4, 285), but both of them are physical forces at the point of attack. They can toss linemen to the side and cause a lot of havoc in the backfield. Both players also have a burst off the ball and the speed to close. Smith is one of the best five-techniques in the NFL, and Hageman could also become an excellent 3-4 defensive end.
NFL Matches: Chicago, Dallas, Miami, Green Bay, San Francisco, Kansas City, New England, Seattle
In the first round, there are a lot of potential landing spots for Hageman. Some of the teams picking in the top 16 that could consider Hageman by trading down or back into the first round include Atlanta, Jacksonville, Oakland and the New York Giants.
The Bears could be a potential landing spot for Hageman as they need a lot of help at defensive tackle. They may not re-sign Henry Melton, which would leave a big hole in their defense.
The Cowboys have to get some help at defensive tackle, although Rod Marinelli typically prefers tackles who are shorter and speedy gap-shooters.
Miami also has free agents at defensive tackle and could target Hageman as a replacement. Green Bay may not re-sign B.J. Raji, and Hageman would be a great fit as an end or nose tackle in the Packers' defense.
San Francisco and Kansas City could both consider Hageman to be a long-term starter as a five-technique defensive end. The Patriots could use some size for the interior of their defensive line, and Hageman would be a good understudy to Vince Wilfork.
The Seahawks could take Hageman if he falls to them at the end of Round 1.