Possible Patriots Draft Target, OT Joe Haeg

Steve Balestrieri
April 4, 2016 at 10:00 am ET

Haeg Could be Targeted by the Patriots Early in Day 2

As the 2016 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots suffered a ton of injuries in 2015 and none of them were felt as badly as in the offensive line. There was a never-ending carousel of players in and out of the Patriots OL that eventually took its toll in the second half of the season and down the stretch. The Patriots used 37 different OL combinations last year and the QB, Tom Brady was the guy who paid the price as he was hit more than he has been in any year in his career.

Left tackle Nate Solder was lost for the year after Week 4 with a torn bicep. 2014’s starting center Bryan Stork missed the first seven weeks with concussion symptoms. Sebastian Vollmer, Josh Kline, Tre’ Jackson, Shaq Mason all missed significant time with injuries.

It got ridiculous down the stretch as the Patriots have used five left tackles, five left guards, two centers, seven right guards and five right tackles. Two things happened, their strength and conditioning coach and the offensive line coach’s contracts were not renewed. Solder and Vollmer are back but the team can use an influx of youth at the tackle position, preferably a young man that can come in and vie for snaps if not immediately, by year two in 2017.

Joe Haeg from North Dakota State is a player who would fit in well with the Patriots system. A former walk-on player, he blossomed on one of the FBS’ most successful teams. He’s started 60 of 61 possible games and has the versatility that Bill Belichick loves in his players, 32 at left tackle and 29 at right tackle.

Joe Haeg

Haeg received the Top Collegiate Offensive Lineman award from the FCS Athletic Directors Association in 2015, and was a two-time first team All-Missouri Valley Conference lineman.

He has an athletic build at 6’6, 304 pounds but has a frame that would allow him to add on additional weight with little loss of his agility. He uses his long arms very effectively in pass protection, keeping edge rushers away from his body.

He’s agile and quick off the snap in the running game and shows the lateral ability to get around the edge to the second level effectively. Shows good communication to recognize pressure

Pros:

– Squares up to pass rushers well, keeping them at bay

– Excellent quick reaction to pass rusher’s moves

– Very good agility and balance in the running game

Cons

– Has lean lower body, needs to beef up a bit at the next level

– Core strength is an issue and needs to be improved

– Hand strike on pass rushers tends to be too low at times

What his Role Will Be:
His role will be competing for one of the backup offensive line roles, which initially would be the swing tackle. As he finds his feet in the NFL game, he could compete for starting reps at the right tackle role.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?
Yes, with a little technique and size added in the Patriots strength and conditioning program he should be the starting RT tackle on Day 1 in 2017.

How Many Downs Can He Play?
Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?
His roster slot will be in direct competition with reserve offensive linemen Cameron Fleming and Marcus Cannon.

What is his ST Value?
None

Conclusion:
Haeg is a guy the Patriots traditionally love, a self-made hard worker that has had to grind his way to where he is today. He’s a team leader and has been a part of five consecutive FBS college championship team. The Patriots reportedly spent quite a bit of time with him down in Mobile.

He’s been in big games, he knows his assignments and those around him. He sets up well in his base and has good balance while squaring himself in pass protection. He mirrors pass rushers very well. His quick feet and agility allow him to get to the second level in the running game.

Working with Dante Scarnecchia and the Patriots strength coaches should do him a world of good. If he can add some core strength and work on some technique issues, there is no reason why he couldn’t be an effective right tackle in the NFL for years to come. He may need some time to develop and it may take an entire season. He could be targeted early on Day 2 unless the team moves up in the 2nd round and drafts another prospect.

He projects in the Patriots system to be a Potential Starter. He should fit in very well into the NE offense.

 

Haeg’s highlight film can be found here, courtesy of College FB Dude:

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