Lost in much of the Carson Wentz exposure is the offensive lineman who protected his backside for two years. Left tackle Joe Haeg was a four-year starter at NDSU and caught the attention of many NFL scouts early in his college career. Now that the draft is just around the corner, we talked with Haeg about his experience from the moment he left the field for the final time in Frisco, Texas.
Editor’s Note: This conversation took place March 17 and has been edited for print.
Bison Illustrated: Now that you’re back in Fargo before Pro Day, are you working out with Jim Kramer?
Joe Haeg: “Yes, we have some summer workouts planned with the team. It’s been an awesome experience and I’m just excited to see where I’m going.”
BI: In the pre-combine interview, you said NDSU helped you prepare for this moment. In what way did NDSU help you get ready for this?
JH: “I think a lot of it was that NDSU does a really good job of developing young guys. There’s a lot of programs that other colleges in general that will kind of take young guys, put them aside and hope they develop on their own until they become a player they can use. At NDSU, every guy is being developed just as much as a four- year starter was when you come in as a freshman. I think NDSU does a really good job of that, building a strong culture here of winning and it’s an awesome experience.”
BI: What did you want to prove while you were at the Senior Bowl?
JH: “For me and Carson (Wentz) or anyone from a small school that other teams look down upon, the main thing for that was to be able to go out and prove that it doesn’t matter where you’re from once you get on the football field. It matters because every guy is on the same playing field and you have to prove that you’re a top player out there.”
BI: You hurt your shoulder before the Senior Bowl game, but still participated at the combine. How well do you feel you stacked up against your peers?
JH: “I thought I did really well. I showed a lot of natural athleticism, which is something that is my biggest selling point as an offensive lineman. There are so many crazy athletic guys that are pass rushers in the League and being more athletic now is a bigger part of being an offensive lineman in the League. I think I sold that well. I think I did well in a lot of my interviews so it was a good experience.”
BI: I wanted to ask you about the interviews at the combine. Did you have people preparing you for all the crazy questions they’d ask you?
JH: “I was able to train with a guy for interviews. He taught us a lot of things about the process like what to expect. It’s weird though, because the interviews are the things that I’m very confident with. There are definitely some guys that struggle with that aspect of the process but it’s always been something that’s solid for me. Being in those interviews, you just have to be yourself.”
BI: What were some of the off-the-wall questions you received?
JH: “Yeah, I mean, there are a lot of questions that are weird, but the weirdest questions are probably the psychological evaluations. They would make a statement and you’d have to either agree or disagree with that statement. And it would be like, ‘I love flowers. Do you agree or disagree?’ Or, ‘I cry during movies. Do you agree or disagree?’ There were like 300 of those questions and that was only one of the evaluations. You had to do five psychological evaluations. That was probably the scariest part of the whole combine situation but it was an experience that’s for sure.”
BI: What did you do with most of your time in Indianapolis for the combine?
JH: “We were down there for four days, but half the time was spent doing medical stuff. It was a crazy four days.”
BI: How is the shoulder you hurt at the Senior Bowl?
JH: “The shoulder is brand new, it feels like. I was able to get a cortisone shot in it a week before the combine so that really helped a lot. It feels really good.”
BI: Will you be doing the bench press at Pro Day?
JH: “We’re still 50-50 on it; mainly because I lost so much training time with the bench. We’ll see. Most likely, I would. If I didn’t do it, I would wait to send the video to all the teams, which is not a big deal for guys that have injuries in the shoulder. We’re playing it by ear right now.”
BI: Why should an NFL team take a chance on you?
JH: “I think they should because I think I’m an offensive lineman that moves well in space. I’m very athletic and I can make the play across the field, as well. I’m a guy that you’re not going to be getting any phone calls from at three in the morning because I’m in trouble. I’m a very team-oriented guy and I’m all about – I’ve been able to play for a great program and I’m very team- oriented.”
BI: You grew up in Minnesota. Are you hoping they take a hard look at you?
JH: “(Laughs) I did grow up a pretty big Vikings fan, but I’d be happy to go anywhere.”
BI: Have you scheduled any workouts with teams?
JH: “Yeah, I’ve had quite a few workouts planned. I can’t really specifically tell you which teams right now. I have a good amount of workouts planned and I’m excited for them.”
BI: What’s your reaction to all the attention being paid to the quarterback you used to protect, Carson Wentz?
JH: “It’s been crazy seeing him on ESPN all the time. It really doesn’t surprise me too much. Just knowing Carson and knowing not only the kind of player he is, but the kind of person he is, he would attract a lot of teams and we’re very excited for him. It will be fun to see where he ends up.”
BI: We can’t wait to see where both of you end up. Thank you, Joe.
JH: “Anytime, guys.”