Saturday, March 7, 2009

Player Profile: Boston College DT B.J. Raji

Pros: Raji has the bulk, athleticism and quickness to dominate along the interior of the defensive line. He is explosive and agile, which makes him a potentially disruptive force, one capable of penetrating the offensive backfield against both the run and the pass. When he doesn’t get all the way to the quarterback, Raji does a good job of getting his hands up to knock the pass down. The New Jersey native possesses good instincts and anticipates very well. He’s a high upside impact player.

Cons: The BC product falls a bit short in terms of his height at just over 6’1, about two-and-a-half inches shorter than the prototype. He has the appropriate bulk, but could have issues keeping his weight down (played at over 350 pounds as a junior). If not rested properly, Raji tends to wear down as the game goes on. While he has kept his nose clean of late and doesn’t appear to be a bad kid, teams will look into Raji’s character, particularly for a player expected to go high in the first round. He missed the entire 2007 season because of academics and was also ejected from a game for fighting in his junior season.

Scout’s Take: After sitting out the 2007 season, Raji finished his collegiate career with a flourish recording 42 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks and five passes defensed jumping to the top of the defensive tackle class. One can make a case for Raji being the highest rated defensive lineman come April. He is the only player in this draft that combines the sheer girth of a nose tackle with the explosiveness of a three-technique making him a likely top ten, if not top five pick. Like most defensive linemen, Raji still needs to work on his ability to gain leverage and he could get a little bit stronger—he’s probably a couple of years away from his peak performance. The bottom line is this former Eagle could be a rare difference-maker at the defensive tackle position.

Photo Credit: College Press Box (Boston College)