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NFL: Teams pass on Gophers' Hageman in first round of draft

By Brian Murphy

Forum News Service

Two defensive tackles became NFL players Thursday night, but Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman was not one of them.

The Gophers’ 2013 most valuable player was projected by many top scouts to become the program’s first, first-round pick since the New England Patriots selected tailback Laurence Maroney in 2006.

Several mock drafts had the Patriots taking Hageman 29th this year. New England did take a defensive tackle but it was Florida’s Dominique Easley.

Hageman’s parents, Gophers coach Jerry Kill and his high school coach, Giovan Jenkins of Minneapolis Washburn, joined him at Radio City Music Hall in New York, but there was no prime-time celebration. He will have to wait until the second and third rounds Friday, or perhaps rounds 4-7 Saturday, to realize his NFL dream.

Hageman impressed scouts at the combine with his strength when he benched 225 pounds 32 times. He also had had a 35.5-inch vertical jump, 114-inch broad jump and ran 5.02 seconds in the 40-yard dash — all impressive numbers for a man his size.

Hageman, an All-American tight end at Washburn, was the most gifted in-state recruit to pick the Gophers during coach Tim Brewster’s tenure, but it was Kill who pushed him to focus more on school and studying the game.

But there are concerns about Hageman’s technique and inconsistency as a pass rusher from snap to snap, and he was branded as a boom-or-bust first-round pick.

Maroney and cornerback Willie Middlebrooks, selected 24th overall by Denver in 2001, are the Gophers’ only first-round picks in the past 24 years. Safety Brock Vereen is one of the top sleepers in this draft and projected to go as early as the third or fourth round.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.

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