PJ Hall Wasn’t The Relief Raiders Were Looking for

Reports specified the Las Vegas Raiders would release 2018 second-round pick, P.J. Hall. The Minnesota Vikings were going to send a conditional 2021 seventh-round pick in exchange for the defensive tackle. However, Hall failed his physical, and the traded became null. That doesn’t mean the defensive tackle is off the hook though, expect the Raiders to cut Hall soon.

High Expectations

Hall attended Sam Houston State University and posted impressive numbers in a small college division, the Southland Conference. He didn’t get an invitation to partake in the NFL Combine, but had an impressive pro day at SHSU. He displayed raw strength and athleticism by running a 40 in 4.71 seconds on his second try at 308 lbs. Ultimately, he wowed Raiders Jon Gruden enough to take him in the second round. Hall himself showed disbelief at the selection.

“I was really surprised,” Hall told The Mercury News. “I hadn’t heard about me going in the second round at all during this draft process, so it really shocked me when I got the phone call.”

In Hall’s four years at SHSU, he accumulated 42 sacks, 284 tackles, and an impressive 14 blocked kicks. There, he lined up all over the defensive line as well at linebacker. Coming into his NFL rookie season, there would be a steep learning curve to adjust to at defensive tackle.

After the 2018 draft, Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther were excited about Hall. He drew comparisons to some of the best defensive tackles in the NFL such as Aaron Donald and Grady Jarrett.

“Hall is an inside rusher. He’s a potential three-technique, outside shoulder of the guard, which is a critical part of this defense that we’re going to run here,” said Gruden. “With Paul Guenther, we like his production, we love his measurables.

“The only thing he isn’t is he’s not tall, but this man is extremely powerful. I believe he did 38 bench presses, 39″ vertical. The man can run. We need an inside pass rusher, which I think I’ve said that since I’ve been here. Somebody that can disrupt running plays and penetrate, and this guy can do that, so we’re really excited to get him.”

Related: Raiders DT Maliek Collins Making Noise Ahead Of 2020 Season

P.J. Hall’s expectations haven’t matched reality

According to Pro Football Reference, Hall had 10 quarterback pressures in 2018, zero sacks, and earned a run grade of 70.2. Despite the abysmal sack numbers, most of the pressures came after Week 9, so Gruden and Mayock had high hopes coming into the 2019 season.

Hall entered the 2019 training camp overweight but saw plenty of chances to succeed. He started in 12 games and regularly saw playing time over teammate Maurice Hurst, but only had 1.5 sacks on six quarterback pressures. The former second-round pick displayed the occasional power move to burst through the pocket, but he wasn’t consistent enough to make an impact.

Both Hurst and Johnathan Hankins displayed more consistency. Hurst had 3.5 sacks and 12 quarterback pressures in four starts. Hankins had 1.5 sacks on 11 pressures in 16 starts, but was a consistent run-stopper, posting a solid PFF run grade of 70.2.

The clock is ticking for P.J. Hall

As soon as new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli joined the Raiders, and the additions of Maliek Collins and Daniel Ross, Hall’s imminent departure seemed set in stone. A significant portion of the defensive line was practicing all offseason. Collins and Ross were working out with Maxx Crosby under the watchful eye of defensive line coach Brandon Jordan. Also, Clelin Ferrell has been working out with a number of defensive linemen under the tutelage of defensive line coach Mark Hall.

On a media call last week, Gruden called out three players. Hall and Hurst’s offseason workouts have been a mystery. Key while inconsistent in his short NFL career has been seen working out near Atlanta and more recently with Jordan and company in Las Vegas.

“They have to prove that they can be front-line guys. P.J. Hall, Hurst, Key, those are three guys that we used high draft picks on,” Said Gruden. “Arden’s got to stay healthy, P.J. Hall, I’m anxious to see where his weight is, he came in overweight last year — not at that position, can’t happen. Mo Hurst has had some good moments, but we need these guys to burst on the scene, no question.”

Carl Nassib and Clelin Ferrell are currently getting bigger and stronger, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him kicked inside on passing downs. Hurst could find himself next on the chopping block if he is unable to show consistency in training camp… if he’s still with the team. 

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Top Photo: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

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