The Falcons just signaled a full move to a 3-4 or off-balance 4-3 here. With the amount of defensive linemen they brought in this offseason combined with this selection of Ra'Shede Hageman, the Falcons are aligned perfectly for a full conversion.
Hageman, combined with the re-signings of Peria Jerry, Jonathan Babineaux and Corey Peters as well as the signings of Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson, says that the Falcons want to keep their linebackers clean. How Hageman helps in that pursuit will be through his versatility.
On the Field
Hageman can play anywhere in the front three. He can play the 1-technique as a nose tackle, the 3-technique as an under tackle or inside end or the 5-technique as a defensive end. Hageman will also be extremely valuable as one of the two defensive linemen in 2-4-5 nickel looks.
He's extremely nasty up front and isn't afraid to take on double-teams. He explodes off the line and understands how to create pressure by shooting gaps and penetrating on passing plays. He needs to work on maintaining a low pad level, though.
He also needs to work on his hand usage to shed blockers better with his long, 34.25" arms and giant 10.25" hands. On the bright side, he does put his hands up quite often in pass protection and tips a lot of balls at the line. This will help Atlanta create more turnovers.
Off the Field
In a surprising turn of events, Hageman is the first player ever drafted under general manager Thomas Dimitroff who has been either arrested or suspended prior to being drafted by the Falcons. His arrest was one for disorderly conduct back in 2012.
However, the Falcons must have felt it was an isolated incident or they would have taken him off of their board. Hageman has shown a lot of personal growth since that incident too. He has contributed to charities and has turned into one of the leaders for the Golden Gophers.
Why Ra'Shede Hageman instead of Jace Amaro or Jeremiah Attaochu?
Jace Amaro would have been a great fit for the Falcons if they had wanted to go with a tight end. He would have been the ideal fit for Tony Gonzalez's role from 2009 to 2013. However, the Falcons seem to be comfortable with Levine Toilolo.
Jeremiah Attaochu would have been a great fit for the Falcons as an edge player if they had wanted to go with a pass-rushing linebacker or defensive end here. However, they decided to go with someone bigger and stronger up front.
The Falcons will now have one of the biggest and strongest front three in the NFL with Hageman, Soliai and Jackson up front with Babineaux, Peters and Malliciah Goodman rotating in. There's nearly 1,000 pounds on the front three now for the Falcons at all times.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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