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  1. #1
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    Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    By David Teel

    Published May 21 2006

    No need to banter about Bernardini, Barry Bonds or border security today. It's NFL minicamp season and issues abound, from Marques Hagans and toasted ravioli to Michael Vick and sturdy knees.

    The St. Louis Rams chose Hagans in the fifth round of last month's NFL draft, and from the sounds of the team's recent rookie workouts, the selection was a felony heist.

    "What he is is a heck of a football player," Rams coach Scott Linehan told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "For a guy to be able to do what he's done - play a number of positions in his college career and be successful at it, come to an NFL minicamp and play receiver full-time and be really effective. ... That's hard. That's not a natural thing."

    Hagans moonlighted as a receiver and punt returner at Hampton High School and the University of Virginia. He was primarily a quarterback, and a darn good one, but at 5-foot-10 Hagans is shorter than the NFL's stodgy prototype for the position, mandating a switch.

    Whatever. If that's what it takes to stay in the league, so be it. Beats workin' for a livin'.

    Hagans gets it, and his maturity, intelligence and warmth should play well in any locker room. That and his talent.

    "He just makes plays," Linehan said. "Making tough catches is part of making plays. But what he does is catch the ball well with his hands. A lot of times, guys that convert over (to wide receiver) want to 'body catch.' He catches everything with his hands and goes out and gets the ball. And that's something that's really hard to teach."

    With Torry Holt, Kevin Curtis and Isaac Bruce, the Rams are stocked at receiver. But Hagans might prove irresistible for spread formations or as a punt returner.

    Should he stick with St. Louis, Hagans, a confessed chowhound, will find the city's Italian cuisine irresistible. Memo to Marques: Sample the authentic eateries up on The Hill and be sure to order the toasted ravioli appetizer (veal instead of beef) with marinara dipping sauce.

    Hagans was among 51 ACC players chosen in the draft. North Carolina State defensive end Mario Williams, the first ACC product ever selected No. 1, debuted in recent Houston Texans practices to polite reviews.

    Williams' arrival came on the heels of general manager Charley Casserly's departure. Casserly accepted a position at NFL headquarters, but not before, in concert with owner Bob McNair and coach Gary Kubiak, bypassing Southern California running back Reggie Bush in the draft.

    Bush's NCAA rules issues notwithstanding, he's a once-a-generation player. Williams is not. Picking him was madness.

    Williams, by the way, finished fourth in ACC defensive player of the year voting behind Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, Boston College end Mathias Kiwanuka and Virginia Tech end Darryl Tapp. Of 72 votes cast, Williams received four.

    The No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft was much less contentious: Virginia Tech's Vick. He's twice quarterbacked the Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs, but last season he declined as a runner and passer, and the Falcons missed postseason at 8-8.

    Media blamed offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and the fired quarterback coach, Mike Johnson.

    But during minicamp Vick cited the sprained right knee he sustained early last season. The injury, he said, was worse than anyone knew.

    "I couldn't be as mobile as I wanted to be," Vick told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "It wasn't Coach Knapp's fault, it wasn't the quarterbacks coach's fault. It was just me doing something (not running as much) that I felt was best for me. I don't know if it was best for the team, but I did what I could. I wanted to stay in the pocket. I wanted to protect myself. This year I want to come out and be myself, stay healthy and play my game."

    Spin? Truth?

    There's no spinning this: Vick is healthy and has a renowned new position coach: former Virginia and Washington Redskins assistant Bill Musgrave.

    Moreover, the defense that often failed him last season should be better with the acquisition of end John Abraham, safety Lawyer Milloy and cornerback Jimmy Williams (Bethel High and Virginia Tech).

    So no excuses in Atlanta. Playoffs or housecleaning.


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    He wasn't viewed as a steal based on the pre-draft grades that many had on him. To call him a steal because of a successful minicamp seems very premature. I hope he lives up to that status, but I'll be taking a wait and see approach.
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    He wasn't viewed as a steal based on the pre-draft grades that many had on him. To call him a steal because of a successful minicamp seems very premature. I hope he lives up to that status, but I'll be taking a wait and see approach.
    Size and speed have their place, but those attributes are often overated. Hagans would not have been available at the 5 spot had he measured out 2 or 3 inches taller, or 3 tenths of a second faster in the 40. Instead of taking a Jacoby Shepard type, the Rams opted for a "heck of a football player" a player who produced consistently during his years in school.

    Pro Football Weekly's Draft Guide describes Hagans thusly: "Plays like Houdini and is able to get out of some jams that are unbelievable. Outstanding eyes and run vision to escape. Very versatile. Can play running back, wide receiver, return specialist, and could pass the ball in special situations. Has quick feet and natural run instincts. Not as quick or explosive as Randle El, but is bigger, stronger and plays like he has eyes in the back of his head to develop into a similar player"

    IMHOP football instincts trump workout warrior measurables and Hagans appears to have those instincts.
    However, I will agree with you Nick that one mini-camp does not a steal make.... Hagans still has to prove that what he did so well in college, he can do at the NFL level..... I really like his chances though!!


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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    I wouldn't count him out if I were you guys. He ran closer to 220 at the NFL combine, he slimmed down to 200 and ran in the 4.4s for the scouts at pro day. The Randle-El comparison couldn't be anymore accurate. Hagans would have succeeded him at Indiana if his grades would have held up coming out of HS.

    So I wouldn't be so suspicious about good reports coming out of camps, he may surprise you all.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Quote Originally Posted by aggieboy336
    he slimmed down to 200 and ran in the 4.4s for the scouts at pro day
    He actually ran a 4.53 and 4.56 at Virginia's Pro Day, still a great time for a guy that played quarterback most of his career [even replacing Matt Schaub in a couple instances] - not the position you'd want to maintain your straight-line speed. The lost weight made him a little faster, and I'm sure as he gets used to that playing weight that speed will only improve - so I agree with Maui that straight-line stopwatch times are overrated.

    It's nice to hear he's catching the ball with his hands and laying out for catches in minicamp, but it's only a rookie minicamp with little or no contact/pads. Let's see how he does in the slot role after getting smacked around in the middle of the field at full speed. If he can take the 5th WR spot after surviving training camp, I'll be satisfied with his fifth round value. To say at this point that he's a steal is overexaggerated hype based off positive comments from coaches - what do you expect them to say? If Linehan can find ways to employ him in reverses, reverse passes, and other 'trickster' roles, I would then consider Hagans [if he's also a legit threat as a PR] as a steal in the 5th. Way too early to tell at this point.

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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Barely dropped any balls since putting on a Rams helmet. Great guy outta my area, I like what I see.

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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    I like this guy, but that whole Houdini thing could be said for a lot of the WRs on the Rams, because of the Defense they're playing against at these camps. I really hope the D is getting better, and I hope it is a combination of him just being that good, and the D becoming better.


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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Quote Originally Posted by Varg6
    I like this guy, but that whole Houdini thing could be said for a lot of the WRs on the Rams, because of the Defense they're playing against at these camps. I really hope the D is getting better, and I hope it is a combination of him just being that good, and the D becoming better.
    The Houdini description was based on Hagans displays of almost unbelievable escapability while in college. Whether he can "play like he has eyes in the back of his head" at the next level will remain in question until he goes full bore in pads in camp against vets as well as rookies..

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam
    Hagans would not have been available at the 5 spot had he measured out 2 or 3 inches taller, or 3 tenths of a second faster in the 40.
    And if if's and but's were candy and nuts... :tongue:

    I'd like to know, however, how many QB-to-WR converts with slightly less athleticism than guys like Randle El or Matt Jones successfully make the transition. It would seem to me that the guys who do this and are at the top of that list are the ones who are amazing athletes. That's not Hagans.

    The fact of the matter is he was not only available at the five spot but was a reach at that spot according to many draft boards. Hopefully he can show he was a steal, as the article suggests, but we agree in that it's exceptionally premature to praise him on a steal based on a minicamp.

    I seem to recall Chris Chandler lighting up our offense in camp so much that some began to speculate if he should be starting. When he actually did take the field when Bulger went down, he stunk it up. Camp and games are two vastly different things.


    Quote Originally Posted by aggieboy336
    I wouldn't count him out if I were you guys.
    I don't see anyone counting him out. All we're saying is he still has to prove himself beyond one minicamp.


    Quote Originally Posted by aggieboy336
    He ran closer to 220 at the NFL combine, he slimmed down to 200 and ran in the 4.4s for the scouts at pro day.
    I'd like to see sources on those numbers. Two draft sources I've checked say he measured in at 202 at the combine and ran a 4.67. NFL.com says he came in at 198 at his pro day and ran a 4.60 and 4.52. Two hundred pounds and a 4.4 forty? You're going to have to show me that one.


    Quote Originally Posted by aggieboy336
    The Randle-El comparison couldn't be anymore accurate.
    Again, can you show me how? Because I put up a rather lengthy post about why I think it does not work, and would like to hear the support behind the opposing side of that debate rather than just the claim.
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  10. #10
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    I'd like to know, however, how many QB-to-WR converts with slightly less athleticism than guys like Randle El or Matt Jones successfully make the transition. It would seem to me that the guys who do this and are at the top of that list are the ones who are amazing athletes. That's not Hagans.
    You are out of your mind if you don't think he's a great athlete, you don't have to be 6ft6 and run a 4.4 to be an amazing athlete. You must not have seen Hagans break tackles from DE's or turn a sure sack into a 15yd gain. Hagans imo is one of the best athletes in the country


    Quote Originally Posted by Nick
    I'd like to see sources on those numbers. Two draft sources I've checked say he measured in at 202 at the combine and ran a 4.67. NFL.com says he came in at 198 at his pro day and ran a 4.60 and 4.52. Two hundred pounds and a 4.4 forty? You're going to have to show me that one.
    I'm sorry I posted something I did not check on first. I thought I remembered reading about him slimming down and posting a much better time, I may have gotten him confused with someone else that I talk about all the time.

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    I'll take coach Linehan's word for it. If the guy makes plays, who cares if he's a great athelete or not. Moreover, I'll take a guy who runs a 4.6 with incredible ellusiveness over a guy who runs a 4.3, but can't shake my grandmother anytime. (see Marshall Faulk and Trung Canidate).

  12. #12
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    I won't take anyone's word for it. He has to prove it on the field for me to believe it.

  13. #13
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Quote Originally Posted by aggieboy336
    You are out of your mind if you don't think he's a great athlete
    I don't recall saying he wasn't a great athlete. The phrases I used were "slightly less athleticism than guys like Randle El or Matt Jones" and "are the ones who are amazing athletes. That's not Hagans." All I said was he was less athletic than those two players and wasn't an amazing athlete, and I stand by that.

    I understand that you don't have to run in the 4.4s to be an amazing athlete. But you also usually don't see amazing athletes last until the middle of Day Two in the draft (ex: Devin Hester). I believe Hagans is a good but not amazing athlete, and I think while the forty alone doesn't show it, the combination of that along with numerous other tests (including short shuttle and cone) as well as game film do.

    I've seen plenty of college QBs escape likely sacks and make big plays. That doesn't make them all amazing athletes, IMO.
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  14. #14
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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Does that mean you're an atheus Tex?

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    Re: Rams' pick of versatile Hagans a steal

    Oh, that's a question that shouldn't be asked on here. I cannot confirm or deny because we don't talk about the "Re" topic on ClanRam.

    To each his own...right?

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