The War Room: Mario Haggan, LB, Mississippi State
College: Mississippi State
Birthday: March 3, 1980
Strengths: "Super" Mario Haggan is at his best when given free reign to attack. Throughout his college career, he has moved back and forth between middle linebacker and defensive end. In Mississippi State’s unorthodox 5-1-5 defense, the ends have responsibilities very similar to those of outside linebackers in a 3-4 alignment. The Bulldogs moved Haggan from middle backer to end early last season in order to get their best 11 defensive players on the field, but expect to have him back up in the middle for his senior year.
Haggan has proven against SEC competition that he can get upfield and penetrate (12 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 10 quarterback pressures in 2001) and is the type of player that opponents must account for on every down. He has the explosive burst of a top pass rusher as well as the size and strength to take on blockers and stuff the run. Haggan hustles and has the instincts for the linebacker position. While early in his college career he was in danger of eating his way into becoming a full-time down lineman, he has become a well-conditioned athlete and a dedicated worker. At the NFL level, depending upon the scheme, he could potentially play either inside linebacker, outside linebacker, or even down rush end.
Areas for Concern: Haggan lacks polish as a linebacker and succeeds due more to his physical skills than great technique. A linebacker-defensive end ‘tweener, he is better going forward than in reverse and lacks experience in coverage. While Haggan excels when he is cut loose to go get the ballcarrier, he may not be as effective in a system that requires him to make more reads and fulfill several responsibilities.
How Would He Look in Steel Blue? Very familiar, at least to Dom Capers. Haggan is in the same mold as many of the outside linebackers who have posted gaudy sack numbers in past Capers defenses (such as Pat Swilling, Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathon) – a linebacker-defensive end hybrid who can pressure the quarterback – and could be an impact player in that role. While Kailee Wong appears to have one of the outside positions covered for the next several seasons, Keith Mitchell will be a free agent after the 2002 season and no one else on the roster has the track record that would indicate that he is a long-term answer at this key spot. Haggan could also be tried inside, although he may not be as well-suited for that position as on the outside.
(profile written by Warren DeLuca)
Mario Haggan’s 2001 Stats G TCK TFL SKS FF FR INT 10 62 12 4 0 0 4 Mario Haggan Return to The War Room
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