MADISON––Ra'Shede Hageman admitted he saw a few raised eyebrows when a player from rival Minnesota had the temerity to show up at Wisconsin's pro timing day on Wednesday, but he harbors no ill will.
College is over, says Hageman. He was at the Badgers pro day to show support for Wisconsin offensive lineman Ryan Groy, who––along with Hageman––is a client of Athletes First and certified contract advisor Joe Panos, a Wisconsin alum.
"Me and (Groy) have good chemistry together, because we trained out in Cali," said Hageman. "So I just got out here supporting him. We're probably going to get dinner later on and just kinda chill."
Both players have also recently been working out at NX Level sports performance facility in nearby Waukesha, Wis., an establishment that has gained publicity for training J.J. Watt and other NFL players.
With the Combine now in the rearview mirror, Hageman said the Green Bay Packers were one of 20 or 21 teams with whom he had a formal interview and came away feeling good about his meeting with the team in Titletown.
"Just good vibes all around," said Hageman. "Obviously they're somebody ... they're interested in. I just have to continue this process to my best ability. Obviously me and you don't know when I'll get drafted or what team I will, but I'm just trying to take full advantage of that."
With defensive linemen like B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly and C.J. Wilson all just days away from reaching free agency, the Packers conceivably have a need for big bodies in the trenches and could look at a player like Hageman in the first round of May's NFL Draft.
"He's 6-6, he's over 300 pounds," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. "He was a high school basketball player. He's got freakish athletic ability and if he puts up the kind of numbers I think he can, in addition to (Jadeveon) Clowney, we're going to be talking about him."
Hageman put up decent numbers at the NFL Combine, including 32 repetitions of 225 lbs. on the bench press that ranked among the top three defensive linemen.
The rest of Hageman's Combine measurables stacked up well amongst players of his size, such as his 40 time of 5.02 seconds, vertical jump of 36.5 inches and broad jump of 114 inches. All were good enough for Hageman to stand pat during his own pro day workout in Minnesota on Monday.
Hageman participated in only position drills at his pro day and from the feedback he's getting from NFL scouts and decision makers, he's feeling very good about his prospects of being selected in the first round.
"Yup, I'm most confident," said Hageman. "I'm definitely getting a lot of attention, a lot of phone calls. We're in the process of setting up individuals workouts with teams. I've got just good vibes all over, just about how good I did testing and obviously what teams look for. So I think overall, I definitely have no regrets about the whole pro day and the whole Combine."
The drills and the measurables might be uber-impressive for Hageman, but the other side of the equation is his sometimes inconsistent motor and sporadic college production.
"The Hageman kid is really interesting and especially given his background and where he's coming from and what he's had to go through in life, " said Mayock, "and I think the hard part is putting the tape on in one game, you see a kid that can go as a Top 15 pick and then you put the next tape on, and then he disappears for three quarters and that's a fifth or sixth round pick ."
As a senior, Hageman had 38 tackles, 13 for a loss and two sacks on his way to being named first-team All-Big Ten by both the coaches and the media.
With the ability to line up anywhere from nose tackle to end, Hageman brings intriguing versatility to the table. But he has to show consistency to be anything more than an interior pass-rush specialist.
But if Hageman is able to put it all together, he could find himself going high in the draft. Maybe as high as the 21st overall selection.
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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