Joe Haeg Goes From Blocking For Carson Wentz, To Andrew Luck

Intro: In the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Colts found a natural tackle in North Dakota State’s Joe Haeg. How did Haeg find his way to the NFL?

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INDIANAPOLIS – NFL General Managers descending on the campus of Indiana State University doesn't happen often.

Terre Haute and the Missouri Valley Football Conference aren't exactly Tuscaloosa and the Southeastern Football Conference.

But Ryan Grigson saw the trip two hours west of Indianapolis as an opportunity this past October to see a potential draftee first hand.

With the Colts at home against the Saints on the weekend of Oct. 25, Grigson slid over to the Indiana/Illinois border to take in Indiana State versus North Dakota State.

Grigson wasn't there to see NDSU quarterbacks Carson Wentz (who had just broken his wrist).

Joe Haeg, a former walk-on from Minnesota, was the main attraction for the Colts GM.

The Colts had promising grades on Haeg (6-6, 293 pounds) from the year before, the first season he had started at left tackle for the Bison.

Now, was a rare chance for an in-person evaluation.

"From the beginning of the game and the pregame just the way that (Haeg) kind of brought the whole team together and the emotion that he showed and the intensity on the field was pretty impressive," Grigson said of Haeg.

"It was something that really stuck with me."

That feeling carried over to the offseason where the Colts were impressed with what Haeg showed at the Senior Bowl and Combine---against top-notch competition.

When the fifth round of the draft rolled around, Haeg and the Colts had plenty of mutual interest.

"I actually only had one official (interview) at the NFL Combine," Haeg said of the Colts. "They were the one team, and we had a great meeting, really connected with all the coaches.

"I saw their pick coming up. Deep down I was like, 'Please give me the call. Please give me the call.' Finally it popped up with the area code. I was very excited, a little shaky because I was so pumped for it."

Haeg was a four-year starter at NDSU (31 starts at left tackle, 29 at right tackle), flipping over to left tackle after former Bison Billy Turner was taken in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

Listed in college at 293 pounds, Haeg would appear to be able to put on a few more pounds.

He's used to that.

The Minnesota native was a 230-pound walk-on coming out of high school, who needed a redshirt year full of bulking up.

"I was pretty undersized," Haeg says. "I knew I could put on the weight.

"I got a little sick of eating (but) I was able to get it on and our strength staff did a great job making sure it was lean."

Four years of starting would follow and the Colts dialed Haeg up with the 155th overall pick over the weekend.

After Grigson observed him in Terre Haute, the Senior Bowl was another big moment for Haeg.

"He had good angles, put his face on people, blocked well at the second level," Grigson said of athletic tackle at the Senior Bowl. "He moves pretty darn well and then in one-on-one pass protection situations he has length and movement and did a really good job. So it looked like a guy that could have been really on the uptick had he not got hurt in the Senior Bowl (shoulder injury limited him to 17 plays) and by the end of the week would have really improved his stock.

"I like the fact that he's from such a winning program. He's a self-made guy. A high, high Wonderlic as well and we feel like he has some position flex. We're excited about him."

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