It seemed like just a matter of time before we saw the fruits of the Falcons’ labor at the Senior Bowl. Head coach Mike Smith and his staff spent the entire week coaching the North squad and on Friday, the Falcons selected two of their former Senior Bowl players with their second and third picks.
The time spent with second-round pick Ra’Shede Hageman was especially useful. Not only did the defensive lineman begin laying the foundation of a strong relationship with D-line coach Bryan Cox, but Smith said seeing how Hageman interacted with everyone during the week was very helpful.
“We got an opportunity to spend significant time with him in the classroom, on the field, in the cafeteria, eating meals and seeing how he interacts with other players.” Smith said. “Ra’Shede is a very big, strong, passionate football player. We really enjoyed the week that we spent with him in Mobile. On the interview side, we get to spend more time in the interviews as well. It was a good week. We got to learn a lot about him and I think he learned a lot about us as an organization and a staff.”
Hageman is currently listed as a defensive end for the Falcons, but at Minnesota he played a number of different defensive line positions. At the Senior Bowl practices, Hageman showed the Falcons he can be multiple by playing both defensive end and tackle during practices.
Third-round pick Dezmen Southward was also on Smith’s North squad and the Falcons staff worked the defensive back out during the week at both safety and cornerback. That versatility contributed to Atlanta’s decision to add him as their new free safety.
“We had him at the Senior Bowl as well,” Dimitroff said. “This is a guy who is big and fast, really good natural agility and movement for a bigger safety.”