He's widely been considered a potential first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft for months now, but former Gophers defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is off to a good start at solidifying his draft stock at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
Hageman's presence at the Combine was felt immediately when he tied for third among defensive linemen with 32 reps in the bench-press. He forced up 11 more repetitions than potential No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina, NFL.com reported.
Hageman recently competed in the Senior Bowl and he was ranked the second-best defensive tackle behind Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald. Senior Bowl Executive Director Phil Savage said Hageman is "scheme-friendly" to any team in the NFL.
"Very athletic," Savage said of Hageman. "When he does it the right way in terms of technique, he is really an unstoppable force."
His athleticism is unquestioned, but his rawness at the position is. Hageman was recruited as a tight end out of Minneapolis Washburn High School, and he didn't start playing defensive tackle until 2011. The fact that he's still learning the position is a driving force for him.
"Obviously there's a lot of great D-tackles here and I feel like I'm definitely a few steps behind them," Hageman said at the Combine, via FOX Sports. "I mean, this is my third year playing D-tackle and I've obviously got to where I am now just by being athletic and being strong. But I feel like there's a lot of D-tackles here that have been playing this position for a long time and I feel that I have to catch up."
If he is behind, he isn't behind by much. NFL Network's Mike Mayock lists Hageman as the fourth-best defensive tackle in the draft.