NFL DRAFT: Haeg hoping for relaxing NFL draft weekend

Joe Haeg High School: Brainerd College: North Dakota State University Position: Offensive Line Projection: Fourth round NFL draft times: Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday; Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday; Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday NFL draft coverage: All rou...

Joe Haeg

Joe Haeg

High School: Brainerd

College: North Dakota State University

Position: Offensive Line

Projection: Fourth round


NFL draft times: Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday; Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday; Rounds 4-7: 11 a.m. Saturday

NFL draft coverage: All rounds can be viewed on ESPN or NFL Network

A nice little weekend with a trip to The Home Depot or Bed Bath & Beyond is likely not in the cards for Joe Haeg.

Instead the former Brained Warrior and North Dakota State University Bison offensive lineman will be surrounded by family watching television to see who his future employer will be.

Haeg is a projected Round Four pick in the 2016 NFL draft, which kicks off 7 p.m. Thursday with Round One. Haeg said he's embraced the experience and hopes to find some relaxation over the three days of the draft.

"I'll be back home with my family " he said in a conference call Tuesday. "I'll be keeping it small and just trying to keep as relaxed an environment as I can. Then I have friends and family coming up so I'll be able to hang out with them after I find out what team. It will be a small little deal. It will be exciting."

Haeg said he's had about 10 private workouts with one more scheduled this week before Thursday. He said the meetings have gone smooth and he has enjoyed talking with offensive line coaches to learn their blocking philosophies and schemes.

The 6-foot-6, 305-pound lineman said the teams that have shown interest have him on their top 100 draft boards, but he's not placing bets on where he might be selected


"Anything can happen on draft day," Haeg said. "I could fall late. It's just crazy with how everything goes. Heck, even if I did fall to the seventh round, I would still be getting drafted in the NFL, which is amazing to say. I'm just trying to embrace it and I'm excited to find out where I'm going."

Haeg called the process of going from the FCS National Championship to training for the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl to preparing for the draft a "crazy ride."

A shoulder injury during the Senior Bowl hampered his ability to show off his strength with the bench press. He did miss five weeks of upper body strength training because of it and he will test it again Tuesday or Wednesday, but Haeg said he wasn't concerned.

Helping alleviate stress about the unknown has been talks with former college teammate Billy Turner, who was drafted two years ago by the Miami Dolphins.

"I talked to Billy a couple of times before the Senior Bowl and before the (NFL) Combine and he gave me his advice," Haeg said. "He just told me to be you. He said, 'You know what you're capable of doing. There is no reason to be nervous and just embrace the process of going out there and showing everybody what you have.'"

It was Turner who Haeg replaced at left tackle the last two seasons at NDSU. Before that Haeg started at right tackle for two years. That versatility will come in handy for Haeg as a pro.

"Every team has different needs on their offensive line," said Haeg. "If you add them all together, there are teams that want me at all four positions. Being able to be versatile and play both guard and tackle on both sides is something I'm very capable of doing and it's something being a young guy and on the offensive line when they only travel with seven or eight guys to have that versatility is huge."

Another key to Haeg's success so far in his career has been all the doubt he's had to overcome. Coming out of Brainerd he was not a highly recruited player. He walked on at NDSU. He redshirted his first season, but started all four years while a Bison.


He said he looks forward to the challenge of proving people wrong.

"I've embraced the whole underdog story my entire career," said Haeg. "My ninth-grade year I was on the B team and I was a backup to guys. Then I went and walked on (at NDSU). It's just something I've embraced. It's just kind of part of who I am. I have accepted the challenge and going out there and proving everyone wrong.

"I would say as far as this part of the process going obviously there is the small-school thing. But I think teams know what I'm capable of and they've taken notice."

As he's said, Haeg is "embracing" the once-in-a-lifetime process of going through the NFL Draft. One of the best moments he said is meeting people he's watched walk the sidelines on Sundays.

"Meeting the coaches is really kind of surreal," he said. "Meeting these head coaches and guys you've seen on ESPN for so long. These great coaches that people are always talking about as legendary coaches, hall of fame coaches and just being able meet them. Then to have them recognize you and have a conversation about it. It's been very awesome to be part of that process and meet so many great coaches. As well as all the great guys at the Combine and Senior Bowl. They're all great guys and we've had a lot of fun with them. It's just been an awesome process to be a part of."

Also awesome has been the fan support and the excitement of friends and the stability of family. Haeg will be one of the first athletes from the lakes area drafted into the NFL. But he's tempered expectations and is trying to remain grounded.

"I've never been a guy, as a junior and senior, who looked at those projections and all these stats and standings and all this stuff," Haeg said. "I honestly don't even worry about that. I know there are 500 different mock drafts that have me going anywhere from the first round to the seventh round. You don't really think about it and you're just excited for the opportunity to find out which team you're going to and embrace it.

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or . Follow on Twitter at .


Joe Haeg
Joe Haeg

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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