In our latest Oakland Raiders season grades, we take a look at DT P.J Hall, who was a 2nd round pick for the Raiders in 2018.
P.J. Hall was drafted with the 57th pick in the 2018 draft, which was very surprising, as almost no Raiders fan knew who he was. Hall spent his college career playing at Sam Houston State, an FCS school. Coming out of Seguin High School, Sam Houston State was Hall’s only scholarship. In fact, Max Preps had him ranked as the 5,231 ranked player in the country, and outside of the top 500 for Texas players alone.
When I first watched Hall’s college tape, shortly after the 2018 NFL Draft, I was surprisingly impressed by versatility. In college, he lined up almost everywhere on the defensive line. His junior season in college, he played the 5 technique, lining up as a 3-4 DT. However, his senior season was much different. Hall played in a two-point stance as a stand-up 3-4 OLB about 70% of the time.
The play that really impressed me was one in which he lined up as a 3-4 OLB on the left side of the LOS. The opposing team ran the ball to the opposite side of Hall, behind the Left Tackle. The running back broke loose and had a clear path to the end zone. Hall, who was about 5 yards behind the back, sprinted and chased him down. Hall has that type of speed.
Coming into the year, a second-round pick is expected to start. He doesn’t have to be the best player on the team, but at a minimum, he should be a good role player who can contribute. We should also see improvements throughout the season.
Personally, the biggest concern for me was if he’d be able to adapt to the game speed of the NFL and continue making plays. I wanted to see if Hall would be able to contribute in the run game as well as if he’d be able to get pressure on the opposing quarterback.
Considering the season in whole, P.J. Hall was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the 13th best rookie defensive linemen vs. the run, with a grade of 70.8. However, when considering the fact he had a more significant learning curve over other rookies, mainly because he came from an FCS school, I decided to look at the second half of P.J. Hall’s seasons.
Now, although Hall did not record a sack in his rookie season, he really stepped up the second half of the year. After Week 9, he was able to get 11 quarterback pressures and 3 quarterback hits to go with many stops in the run game. P.J. Hall was an absolute monster in the second half of the season.
Considering Weeks 9 through 17, Hall had the 3rd best run grade amongst all rookie defensive linemen, with a grade of 77.1. That grade puts him ahead of players such as Daron Payne, De’shawn Hand, Marcus Davenport, Vita Vea & Bradley Chubb. Hall also had the 7th best overall grade considering Weeks 9-17.
Stats aside, when I watched Hall on tape, I was very impressed by the rookie. I saw him utilize a ton of different moves to get to the quarterback. There was a third down play vs. the Cincinnati Bengals in which he quickly jumped the gap, and swam over the right guard. The running back stepped up, and Hall pushed him right into the quarterback, who threw the ball right as he got him. The ball ended up landing five yards short, and the Bengals punted.
P.J. Hall has the quickness off the ball, that most players don’t have. Hall was drafted for his potential, not for what he was the day the Raiders drafted him. Coach Paul Guenther spoke about Hall during training camp and mentioned he was having a harder time learning the play calls, compared to fellow rookie Maurice Hurst.
I want Hall to continue to work on his skills using his hands. He needs to learn when to use the swim, rip, or spin moves. If he is able to do this, he will be able to make a huge impact for the Oakland Raiders. I do expect Hall to be the starter next year, and be an every-down defensive linemen for the Raiders.
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