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Many Patriots fans and pundits, including yours truly, believe that the Patriots should look to address the defensive line in the first round. The days of the Seymour, Wilfork, Warren trio seem like centuries ago, and the team could use some improved physicality and athleticism upfront. The Patriots defense is constantly adapting, having gone from a 3-4 in years past to what is now primarily a 4-3, or even 4-2-5 base defense. Because of this, Belichick and the front office may be looking for different skill sets on the defensive line than in years past.
Minnesota DL Ra’Shede Hageman would appear to be an interesting prospect for the Patriots. Some scouts say that he has the potential to be a Richard Seymour-type player, but his game film shows constant inconsistency. Hageman is a tremendous athlete, and measured in at 6’6″ 310 lbs at the combine in Indianapolis. He figures to be a perfect fit as a 3-4 defensive end, but the question is how would he fit into a New England defense that is now primarily an even-front?
While most scouts believe that Hageman’s ideal fit is in a 3-4 defense, he did play tackle in a 4-3 with the Golden Gophers. Hageman has the potential to be a force anywhere on the interior of the defensive line, his 36″ vertical suggests he has the ability to bat down balls at the line of scrimmage, something the Patriots are sorely lacking. Hageman is an explosive player at the point of attack, and often drew double teams during college.
He could be an interesting fit next to Vince Wilfork on the defensive line, and could do wonders helping to free up Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich on passing downs. Hageman relied heavily on his superior size and athleticism in college, and thus showed some sloppy technique on his game tape. Because of this, some scouts have pegged him as a “boom-or-bust” prospect.
At the end of the first round, however, he could be worth taking a risk on. The Patriots have lacked playmakers on the defensive line in years past, and Hageman could be just the sort of impact player the team has been lacking since the departure of Richard Seymour. Projected as late first to early second round pick, Hageman is a real option for the Patriots at number 29. While his ideal fit may be in a 3-4 defense, he still has the ability to play tackle in a 4-3, and I doubt the Patriots will be able to find a better option at the first round than the physically imposing Ra’Shede Hageman.