12

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: DL Ra’Shede Hageman

Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman

Minnesota Gophers defensive lineman Ra’Shede Hageman

Packers prospect profile: DL Ra’Shede Hageman

Player Information:

Ra’Shede Hageman,  DL  Minnesota, 6-6, 310 pounds,  Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

STATS

NFL Combine:

40 time: 5.02

Vertical jump: 35.5″

225 lb. bench: 32 reps

Broad jump: 114″

News and Notes:

Converted from tight end to defensive line during his redshirt freshman seasons. … Was two-time all-state tight end in high school … First team all Big Ten and third team All-American his senior season. … Received the Bronko Nagurski award, given to the team’s most valuable player, his senior season. … Had 13 tackles for loss senior season. … Foster child, mother was a drug addict, father died before Ra’Shede met him. … More about Hageman’s difficult childhood.

 What they’re saying about him: 

  • Mike Mayock:  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, 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 and you have to rectify the whole thing if he blows up the Combine; who are we getting. That’s the important thing is trying to understand the kid, because the talent is certainly there.
  • NFL.com: Terrific movement, flexibility and range. Loose ankles. Can work the edges. Able to redirect and chase athletically. Fierce tackler. Rare leaping ability for his size (workout all-star). Disrupts passing lanes. Has a “wow” factor at his best. Has immense upside. Team captain.

Video:

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Video Analysis:

  • Size and length look very intimidating
  • Big-hitter
  • Good lateral movement and ability to make a tackle downfield
  • Slow to react at times
  • Extremely difficult to handle if he gains leverage

If drafted by the Packers:

Since I live in Minnesota and punish myself by watching the Gophers, I’ve followed Hageman’s entire career. Most of the scouting reports are accurate: He’s got a ton of ability, but tends to disappear for stretches. Some say his disappearing acts raise questions about his effort. Whenever I’ve observed Hageman go into hibernation, he appeared to be really tired. Hands on the hips, breathing heavy, slow of the ball — the usual signs. I wonder if conditioning was an issue for him in college and if an NFL conditioning program would fix that.

10

May

Packers Undrafted Free Agents: Running Backs

Duane Bennett

Minnesota Gophers RB and Packers undrafted free agent Duane Bennett.

If you’re looking for a position group on the Packers roster that might be infiltrated by an undrafted free agent, running back is a strong possibility.

Ryan Grant is likely gone, James Starks can’t stay healthy, Alex Green is coming off a bad knee injury and Brandon Saine is unproven. Here’s a look at the Packers 2012 undrafted free agent running backs and why they might have a shot at making the team.

Duane Bennett, RB, Minnesota
Height: 5-9
Weight: 213 pounds
Pro Day Results: 40-yd. dash — 4.62; 20-yd dash — 2.70; 10-yd. dash — 1.56; 225-lb. bench reps — 28; Vertical jump — 35.5″; Broad jump — 10’00″; 20-yd shuttle — 4.16; 3-cone drill — 6.92.
Career Notes: Finished with 2,126 rushing yards, 13th in Gophers history. … 639 rushing yards on 166 carries (3.85 avg.) senior season. … 96-yard kickoff return for TD against Wisconsin week 10 of senior season. … Blocked a punt and returned it for TD senior season. … Earned freshman All-Big Ten honors. … Sophomore season ended after two games due to knee injury.

Overview
Because I live in Minnesota, I get a chance to see the Gophers play on a regular basis. The Gophers are usually a chore to watch, but they had a few intriguing teams under Glen Mason. Using offensive lineman that were a bit undersized but extremely mobile, Mason built the Gophers’ offense around a running game that featured guys like Marion Barber III, Laurence Maroney, Thomas Hamner and Gary Russell.

After Mason left, the Gophers went from being a mediocre team that was somewhat fun to watch to a terrible team that is painful to watch. Those impressive offensive lines and dynamic running backs now seem like a distant memory, especially the offensive lines. Just ask Duane Bennett.

Bennett was recruited by Mason and kept his committment to the Gophers after Mason was fired. Because Bennett was a Mason recruit, and because Minnesota’s offensive line has been abysmal in the post-Mason era, I have some hope that Bennett might be a better player than his college stats indicate.

Bennett is strong, his 28 bench press reps at Minnesota’s pro day would’ve tied for the most among running back at the NFL combine. He’s also overcome a serious knee injury and makes an impact on special teams. He looked indecisive at times in college, but it was hard to tell if he was actually indecisivie or if the Gophers line was so bad that he just didn’t know what to do with himself.

11

March

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

I was watching the Minnesota Gophers play the Michigan Wolverines in the Big 10 tournament on Friday night and somehow the end of the game made me think about the NFL.

It was one of those down-to-the-wire college basketball games that makes the sport so exciting, or at least should make the sport so exciting. Unfortunately, whenever the intensity got ratcheted up to 10 and you were getting to the edge of your seat, a timeout would be called. Or the refs would need five minutes to review a play. Then another timeout. Then another review. And so on, and so on…

The end of what should have been a memorable game was ruined by meddling coaches and refs who relied too heavily on the crutch of instant replay.

So what does this have to do with the NFL? I guarantee you if a similar problem existed in the NFL, it would do something to correct it. The NFL isn’t afraid to innovate, even if it means upsetting some people in the process.

If I was in charge of college basketball, I would ban timeouts in the final two minutes. Actually, I would still allow timeouts, but only to stop the clock. Once a timeout is called, the clock would stop, the team that called the timeout would get the ball out of bounds, and play would resume. There would be no long break as the players wandered over to the bench, listened to their coach draw up another play, then wandered back onto the court.

This would be a fairly major change to college basketball, one that would causes coaches and longtime fans resistant to change to start whining. Loudly.

They would claim the new rule alters the way the game is played. I would say, damn right it does. It makes the game better.

They would claim coaches need those timeouts to set up crunch-time plays. I would say that is what practice is for and admonish the coaches for not properly teaching their players how to function in high-pressure situations without someone holding their hand.

They would say the new rule is only to placate casual fans. I would say all fans will appreciate a more exciting game, except maybe for you and your fuddy-duddy friends.