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Second-round pick Ra'Shede Hageman fortifies Falcons' options to spend more time in 3-4 scheme

Mike Smith says he doesn't want his Falcons defense to be predictable or easily labeled.

Second-round draft pick Ra'Shede Hageman is a very big reason Atlanta may no longer rely on four-man fronts in its base defense.

The 6-foot-6, 318-pound Hageman played nose tackle at Minnesota and was drafted as a defensive end. That's a strong signal there will be an increased emphasis on a 3-4 scheme. Players who look like offensive tackles don't often play defensive end in four-man fronts.

Following Friday's first session of the three-day rookie minicamp, Hageman gave an even stronger signal of the changes when he casually said "We play a 3-4."

Whatever the scheme, the Falcons need to improve a pass rush that produced the league's third-fewest sacks last season.

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