Syracuse placed an offensive lineman into the first round of last April’s draft and Minnesota could put a defensive lineman into the closing stages of next year’s first round. Jon Dove breaks down the top three prospects playing in the Texas Bowl.
Ra’Shede Hageman/DT/Minnesota: Ra’Shede Hageman possesses a ton of natural ability and is just starting to figure out how to use it. His best attributes are his quickness off the ball, long arms and strong motor. Hageman has shown the ability to wreak havoc in the backfield on a consistent basis. He also features good raw strength and is able to press the blocker when he gains inside hand placement. However, his hand usage needs a lot of improvement. Hageman must commit to using his hands rather than relying on his quickness and size to succeed. This is a prospect defensive line coaches are going to really like because Hageman has a ton of potential. He just needs to refine his overall technique which all coaches always feel is something they can accomplish. 2nd Round
Jerome Smith/RB/Syracuse: Jerome Smith is a well rounded back who runs with both power and quickness. His ability to move the pile is his best attribute, but he’ll surprise many with his quick burst. This versatility helps Smith gain yards between the tackles and on the edge. Smith doesn’t contribute much as a pass catcher which will likely limit him to a role as a two-down back. However, teams in today’s NFL typically feature two running backs rather than one every-down player. Placing Smith in the fourth round range might be a little aggressive, but he’s that talented of a runner. However, it’s likely that he will be a victim of the dropping value of the running back position. 3rd/4th Round
Sean Hickey|/T/Syracuse: Syracuse handed Sean Hickey the task of replacing first-round pick Justin Pugh at left tackle this season. Hickey did more than a passable job thanks to his fluid movements and sound technique. Like Pugh, Hickey doesn’t have great bulk but makes up for it with his ability to move in space. He also does a good job using proper angles and inside hands to help keep the quarterback clean. His athleticism and limited power means that Hickey might best fit in a zone blocking scheme. 3rd/4th Round