Last year, PJ Hall was drafted in the second round out of Sam Houston State, an FCS school. Hall’s training camp hinted that he was drafted for his potential. Throughout the season, the Raiders began to see how high Hall could fly.
As a rookie, it took Hall about half the season to find his groove, but when he did, it was truly something to behold. Hall did not record a sack the entire season, but was still able to leave his mark on the second half of the season. From Week 10 on, Hall carved 8 solo tackles and 11 quarterback pressures to close out the season.
Hall is quick and slippery, yet incredibly powerful. He features a wide variety of moves to get through the offensive line and has no trouble getting through a pass-blocking running back to, at least, pressure the quarterback.
While it would have been promising for Hall to record a sack in 2018, sacks were incredibly hard to come by for the entire team as the Raiders recorded 13 sacks in 16 games. While impressive, in its own sense, how Hall had 11 quarterback pressures in the second half of the season, but did not get to the quarterback quick enough to acquire his first career sack.
Hall’s first career sack is coming, as are many more. If Hall can continue bringing the pressure alongside Maurice Hurst, expect both players to thrive in their sophomore season.
Maurice Hurst experienced a different college career. Hurst attended the University of Michigan and recorded 32 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. Hurst was a very unique draft pick. Taken in the fifth round, Hurst was a reach and a steal at the same time. Hurst’s talent alone puts him as a first-round pick. However, his diagnosed heart condition put Hurst at risk of going undrafted.
Drafting Hurst was a risk, but as a fifth-round pick, his value continues to increase. Hurst recorded four sacks on the season, which tied him for 10th among rookies but led the Raiders. Khalil Mack recorded four sacks in his rookie season and looking at his more recent stats, one might think Mack might have played his first season with one arm tied behind his back. Hurst may have even more potential than expected.
Expect Hurst to thrive in his sophomore season and to surpass his 2018 sack total with ease.
I say it a lot, but an offseason in the NFL can be crucial to the growth of up-and-coming players. If done right, both Hall and Hurst have the potential to make their rookie seasons’ numbers look like child’s play.