Jon Gruden is short and to the point. So, it is not surprise to see the Oakland Raiders head coach seize a prospect who embodies that quality perfectly in PJ Hall. The Sam Houston State terror may be short (6-foot-1) but he gets to the point. Hall tallied 42 sacks, 86.5 tackles for loss and 14 blocked kicks.
Haven’t heard of Hall? It is no surprise. The small-school product was immediately labeled as a reach, but those in the know, studied film and watched Hall closely, see the Raiders getting a draft-day steal at the 57th overall pick.
A combine snub, Hall obliterated Sam Houston’s Pro Day with a scintillating 4.73 40-yard dash, 38-inch vertical and 36 bench press reps. Add those wild numbers with the game film and production and it is no wonder the Raiders pounced in the second round. Hall is effective getting at the quarterback and choking off lanes in the run game. He is akin to former Raiders Rod Coleman and Grady Jackson all in one player.
However, the real kicker: Hall will serve as a fit for defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. The 23-year-old has eerily similar size, speed, and power to destroyer defensive tackle Geno Atkins, a player who anchored Guenther’s defensive line in Cincinnati. Hall himself says he models himself after the Rams’ Aaron Donald (who is also of similar size). The powerhouse rookie expects to play the three technique spot for Oakland. Hall notes he is very comfortable in that role.
Still, like every other rookie taken in the draft, progression is critical. Moreover, if Guenther and defensive line boss Mike Trgovac can develop Hall, the Raiders will finally have an interior pass rusher to pair with sack artist Khalil Mack.
NFL analyst Lance Zierlein, who compares Hall to the Falcons’ Grady Jarrett, had this to say:
“What Hall lacks in height, weight, and length, he makes up for with power, quickness, and explosiveness. Hall has the quickness and strength to be disruptive against the run and pass. He will play as a shade nose or reduced front three-technique. His level of production in every category imaginable could foreshadow his ability to translate into the NFL. However, he will have to prove he can maintain his weight. In addition, he must stand up to the rigors of the interior with bigger men across from him.