A glance at the Falcons’ second and third picks


Even before Falcons great Claude Humphrey read the 37th pick overall, Rashede Hageman tweeted out “Atlanta here I Come!!!!!” The two year starter at Minnesota played pretty much every position on the defensive line with the Golden Gophers and the Falcons say he’ll be a defensive end in their defense.

“At Minnesota they had me playing D-End (defensive end),” Hageman said via video conference from Radio City Music Hall in New York City. “So if that’s what they want me to do, I’m going to take that advantage and play defensive end.”

The Falcons are playing a 3-4 defense this season under coordinator Mike Nolan and Hageman fits right in with the size upgrade the team wants up front. Hageman comes into the league at 6’6”, 310 pounds. He came in to Minnesota as a tight end and then became a defensive tackle, after coming into the 2010 fall camp at 302 pounds.

This past season Hageman was a consensus All Big-Ten selection with 38 tackles (13 tackles for a loss), two sacks, two blocked kicks, and one interception. He then caught a lot of scouts and coaches eyes at this year’s Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama. Hageman says he developed a good relationship there with new Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox.

“He definitely gave us tips on the future and what to work on,” Hageman said. “So, I feel like me and him connected and bonded based off the Senior Bowl.”

Adding to his impressive marks on the football field, many considered Hageman to be a very good basketball player coming out of high school. He picked up a three-star from Rivals.com, after scoring 12 points his junior season.

The bigger and stronger Mike Smith football team looks like it just added another player to his cause. Along with the impressive plays on tape, Hageman also bench pressed 225 pounds 32 times during a pre-draft workout.

As For Dezmen Southward:

Falcons picked up a position of need in the third round by picking up Dezmen Southward, a safety from Wisconsin in the third round. Southward showed in college that he could be a good tackler and make plays around the football while playing for the Badgers.

The question with Southward is about some possible health issues that were talked about after the Falcons made the pick. While at this year’s scouting combine in Indianapolis, medical tests turned up wrist and spine issues for the defensive back. Even with this being the case, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff isn’t concerned.

“Yes, with his exclusion from the combine was healing up from his wrist fracture,” Dimitroff said. “His cervical checked out positive and we’re in a good spot with that as well.”

Southward is a player that saw action in all 54 games while playing at Wisconsin and this comes off only playing one year of high school football at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Prior to his senior year, he played basketball and ran track.

“It was a thing where everyone told me I would end up playing football,” Southward said via conference call. “When I gave football a try, I fell in love with it. I haven’t picked up a basketball since. It is truly my calling card. My only regret is I wish I would have got into it earlier.”

Southward’s career at Wisconsin netted him 152 total tackles (11.5 for a loss), 12 passes defended, four forced fumbles, and two interceptions during his four year career with the Badgers. Thomas Dimitroff says that his athleticism is very evident.

“We looked at the idea of any of these defensive backs to have versatility to line up in the slot,” Dimitroff said. “He aligned out at the corner before as well, and as well as safety. We’re bringing him in as a free safety. A big guy that’s a free safety, who ran a 4’3 is a positive.”

Unlike Jake Matthews and Ra’Shede Hageman, Southward says the Falcons pick caught him completely by surprise.

“I had no idea, no idea at all,” Hageman said. “I think it is even a bigger shock to me because I was coached by the Falcons at the Senior Bowl and never once did they say they were interested when they saw me, anything like that.”

So far an offensive tackle, defensive end, and safety picked by the Falcons in the first three rounds of this year’s draft. On the final day, the Falcons could look for a tight end and running back pretty early. They will have seven picks to make over the final four rounds. It also wouldn’t be very surprising if they decide to continue bolstering the depth on the offensive and defensive lines.


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