MOBILE, Ala. -- The last thing an NFL prospect who plays in the defensive front seven wants is a scheme label. One of the surest ways a prospect can slip a few spots early in the draft, or even a few rounds late in it, is to be passed over because 4-3 teams deem him a 3-4 player, or the converse. But Falcons coach Mike Smith said Minnesota defensive lineman Ra'Shede Hageman, who measured 6-foot-6 and 318 pounds at the Monday weigh-in, will face no such stereotype from his performance at the Reese's Senior Bowl.
"Any team, whether you're playing a 3-4 or a 4-3, I think he's got the skill set to play in both of those schemes," Smith said. "I've been impressed with his athleticism at his size. ... He's done himself well."
The versatility to play defensive end in a 3-4, or tackle in a 4-3, is a big reason why Hageman is among the players who earned a few extra contract dollars at the Senior Bowl. One scout told College Football 24/7 that Hageman's length and strength could be ideal for a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4, controlling two gaps with his massive size.
"Bryan Cox, his personality lets me know that we're on the next level now," Hageman said. "... The fact that Bryan Cox has played in the league, kind of makes me want to take notes and learn everything he's talked about, because he's had that experience. I'm trying to be a dry sponge and just soak up everything I can."
Hageman ranks as the No. 23 overall prospect in the draft according to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah Top 50 list. And if scouting chatter around Hageman's practice week is an indication, he hasn't lost a bit of ground.
"I'm trying to show that I can be disruptive and make plays. The last thing I want to leave them with is my aggressiveness and athleticism," Hageman said.
Saturday, that chance will come.