3 Mar 2014 05:52 PM EST
-by Daniel Mogollon, Staff Writer; Image: Darqueze defends in the Big Ten Championship Game. (Image Source: USA Today Sports)
Here are my Post-NFL Scouting Combine rankings of the defensive prospects coming out of the Big Ten conference:
1) CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State, Senior (5110, 199 pounds)
While Dennard may not have blown people away with his 4.51 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, it was more than enough to solidify him as one of the top cornerbacks in this class, if not the top corner. The Thorpe Award winner already came in highly thought of by the NFL scouting community so he just needed to solidify his status.
For a player with Dennard’s skill set, a 4.51 was more than fast enough to back up all the good game tape the Spartan has put together during his career at Michigan State. He has very good size, with a frame that appears capable of adding on a few pounds if need be.
Dennard is very physical, which he compliments with fluid hips. He can beat you at the line of scrimmage and run with you down the field. Plays with confidence and has the ball skills to be a playmaker. Not just a coverman, Dennard isn’t afraid to mix it up against the run either. A two-way player who should be a pick-and-plug starter at the next level.
Projection: Top 20
2) DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota, Senior (6060, 310 pounds)
A bit of an underachiever at the college level, Hageman wasn’t quiet as productive as Dennard, but that’s not to say he didn’t make his presence known because he was usually double teamed and opponent’s clearly schemed to attack other parts of Minnesota’s defense. At his best, the former tight end flashed the ability to take over a game.
In Indianapolis, the Golden Gopher put his size, speed, agility, power, strength and explosiveness all on display. The 6’6” tackle finished in the top nine among D-linemen in every drill. His 35.5” vertical was tops, 9’5” broad jump was second and 32 bench reps third. Making it even more impressive is his tremendous wingspan (34 ¼” arms).
There was no one in the college game better at getting his hands on the football at the line of scrimmage than Hageman. With his combo of size and athleticism there is no reason he shouldn’t develop into an elite penetrator. Add to that the versatility to play anywhere and everywhere along the defensive line in any scheme.
Projection: Late First Round to Second Round
Daniel Mogollon is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America. He is also a voter for the Thorpe and the Rotary Lombardi Award, as well as the Latino Sports MVP Awards.
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