AP Photo
February 22, 2016
AP Photo

(STATS) - They've come to the NFL scouting combine to see the big kid from North Dakota State who was vastly under recruited coming out of high school.

Oh yes, they want to get a look at Bison quarterback Carson Wentz as well.

Don't sleep on offensive tackle Joe Haeg. While Wentz has become one of the coveted players in this year's NFL draft, Haeg also is one of the more talented prospects coming from the FCS level - projected to be selected in the third or fourth round.

Haeg is one of the 22 FCS players from over 330 college football prospects who will take part in the combine, which begins on Tuesday and runs through Feb. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The FCS level often has attractive linemen, and Haeg learned under a pair of future pros from NDSU, Paul Cornick and Billy Turner, after arriving on campus as a walk-on in 2011. It didn't take long for Haeg to display his talent because after redshirting his first year, he missed only one start at tackle - he worked on the right side in 2012 and '13 and protected Wentz's blind side on the left in 2014 and '15 - during the Bison's run of five straight national championships.

"Joe's one of the best offensive linemen I've ever seen at FCS and I've been FCS my whole career," NDSU coach Chris Klieman said. "Very athletic, extremely smart, understands the game so well, works on his craft every day as far as pass protection, as far as run blocking.

"He's been a four-year starter for us, which you just don't see very much in FCS or any college level. He's been healthy, he's been durable, he's been an all-conference player, an All-American-type kid."

The FCS' other top prospect on the offensive line, Harvard's Cole Toner, joined Haeg and Wentz at the Senior Bowl last month. But the 6-foot-6, 307-pound Haeg suffered a shoulder injury during practices and did not play in the all-star game.

So coaches, general managers and player personnel directors will want to get a close look at Haeg during the combine. Having played in a pro-style offense at North Dakota State, he's considered athletic for his size with quick feet, and technically sound in pass protection with the ability to get to the second level in run blocking. He's put on about 90 pounds since the beginning of his senior year of high school - hence the lack of college suitors back then - but he's lean enough that he must show he can anchor against the NFL's biggest pass rushers.

Optimum Scouting director of scouting Eric Gallo says Haeg has the makeup to be a reliable NFL starter.

"With quick, meaningful steps off the snap and in pivoting for inside routes, Haeg makes up for a lack of top-end athleticism with efficiency and reliability," Gallo said. "Haeg does a great job of re-engaging after first contact and works hard to keep inside hand leverage, but he could be a be a bit more decisive in pass protection when meeting speed rushers and may be better suited inside or at right tackle at the NFL level."

Haeg will be part of the first positional groups to report for four-day visits to the combine. The players' final day will be the on-field workouts.

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NFL SCOUTING COMBINE - FCS PARTICIPANTS

Feb. 23-26 (Running Backs, Offensive Linemen, Place-Kickers and Special Teamers)

Marshaun Coprich, RB, Illinois State, 5-9, 209

Lac Edwards, P, Sam Houston State, 6-5, 215

Joe Haeg, OT, North Dakota State, 6-6, 307

John Lunsford, PK, Liberty, 6-1 1/2, 213

Cole Toner, OT, Harvard, 6-5, 305

Feb. 24-27 (Quarterbacks, Wide Receivers and Tight Ends)

Ben Braunecker, TE, Harvard, 6-4, 240

Temmarick Hemingway, TE, South Carolina State, 6-4, 229

Beau Sandland, TE, Montana State, 6-4, 253

Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State, 6-5, 233

Josh Woodrum, QB, Liberty, 6-2, 236

Feb. 25-28 (Defensive Linemen and Linebackers)

James Cowser, DE, Southern Utah, 6-3, 250

Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State, 6-1 1/2, 315

Victor Ochi, OLB, Stony Brook, 6-1, 244

DeVaunte Sigler, DT, Jacksonville State, 6-3, 311

Noah Spence, OLB, Eastern Kentucky, 6-2 1/2, 254

Feb. 26-29 (Defensive Backs)

James Bradberry, CB, Samford, 6-1, 209

Deiondre' Hall, S, Northern Iowa, 6-1 1/2, 192

DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary, 6-1, 197

Miles Killebrew, S, Southern Utah, 6-1 1/2, 219

Harlan Miller, CB, Southeastern Louisiana, 6-0, 182

LeShaun Sims, CB, Southern Utah, 6-0, 201

Ryan Smith, CB, North Carolina Central, 6-0, 185

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