NFL Prospect Focus: Rising stocks

Going into the 2013 season, some clubs didn’t have Boston College running back Andre Williams rated as a draftable prospect. Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman was looked at as a mid-to-late round type. With the college season just about over, both players are far better known than they were in September. Let’s take a look.

Andre Williams – Running Back
Williams is fourth-year senior and a three-year starter. In his first three years, he played mostly as a rotational back and never ran for more than 600 yards in a season. In 2013, Williams has run for more yards than he did in his first three years combined and looks like he will be a Heisman trophy finalist. To date he has run for 2109 yards with a 6.4 yards per carry average and 17 touchdowns. The odd stat is he hasn’t caught a pass all year. He has only 10 receptions in his collegiate career. This season, it’s safe to say that Williams IS the Boston College offense. The BC passing game has been good for only 1800 yards.

Williams has very good running back size at about 6’0- 228. He is more quick than fast, with his speed being in the 4.63 area. He is best as a downhill between-the-tackles runner. He has good initial quickness and stays low out of his stance. He plays with good vision and instincts and makes good decisions. He shows some cutback skills and can make a cut in the hole, but he is not a top elusive-type runner. Williams is a consistently hard runner and has the lower body power to get yards after contact. While he has a burst to turn the corner, he is much better inside than he is outside.

Williams is a pounder who can nickel and dime a team to death. While he has some long runs, he is not the breakaway type. I noticed on tape that teams will often play eight or nine in the box to stop him. If a play is blocked well and he clears the line of scrimmage, he has free sailing. At least three of his longer runs were of this variety. While not used in the passing game, Williams is willing as a pass blocker and flashes as a face-up blocker.

The fact that no running backs were taken in the first round is not an anomaly. The running back position has been devalued as it pertains to the draft. Unless a back has something really special, they won't be going that high much more. Because Williams has never been part of the BC passing game, scouts and coaches will questions his skills in that area. At this time, I can’t see Williams getting drafted before the third round. He will be in the NFL what he is in college, a good between-the-tackles power back.

Ra’Shede Hageman – Defensive Tackle
If you only had one tape to look at on Hageman, the game you would want to see is Nebraska. He showed dominating ability in that game with a sack and two tackles for loss. The problem is, he doesn’t play every game like the Nebraska game. I viewed five games of this player (Penn State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Iowa) and I saw up-and-down play in each game.

Hageman is a fifth-year senior and a three-year starter. He plays in a strict rotation playing about 55% of the defensive snaps. He usually plays as a one-technique but will also play at the three-technique position.

He is listed at being 6’6 – 315. He is an adequate athlete and a bit tight in the knees and hips. He can have a tendency to play tall. When he bends his knees and stays low, he is much more effective. He has good straight-line quickness and adequate speed. I would estimate he will run in the 5.10-5.15 area.

He shows good initial quickness, and when he stays low, he can be explosive. He has good instincts and awareness on the field and finds the ball. He doesn’t have top hand use and can be slow to shed at times, but because of his strength, he can also be tough to move. His play is average when taking on double team blocks. It's frustrating watching him as there are plays when he gets off the ball, sheds a block quickly, and makes the play, but then, other plays, he is a non-factor. You don’t see down after down consistency. He flashes pursuit ability and takes good angles but, again, not on a consistent basis. As a pass rusher, he can be a very good bull rusher when he wants to. I have seen plays where he jolts his opponent with a hand punch and drives him back to the QB. He also flashes quick hands and counter moves. The problem is there are too many plays where he is stuck at the line of scrimmage.

There is no question that this player has talent. While not a great athlete, he has the traits to be a starter in the NFL. He has to play lower more often and play with intensity on a more consistent basis. He has the talent to be drafted in the late second to third round, but his inconsistent effort and production may drop him down a round.

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