B. J. Raji, 2009 NFL Draft Prospect
6' 1" 330 lbs.
Strengths + Strong Hands, Versatility, Strength(bull rush), agile and quick, good in pursuit of the ball.
Weaknesses- Experience, lacks ideal height, tendency to get too high
By Brandon Thorn
Boston College DT B.J. Raji, whose first name, Busari is Nigerian for bliss, is one of the prospects who's stock is rising by the minute. Raji was dominant for the majority of his senior season and led one of the best defenses in the nation. Fortunately he was able to play this year because last year he had to sit out (redshirt) due to an error in counting his credits, which shouldn't hurt his draft status. Raji learned a lot about himself and what he was capable of during that time, he could still practice with the scout team and he soon was wrecking havoc on the first-team offensive line. Raji's weight prior to his junior season shot to over 350 pounds at one point. Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski was adamant about B.J. getting down to the 320-330 range by the season's start and B.J. did just that. By the time his senior year began Raji was ready to prove to his family, coaches, teammates, and the rest of the college football world that he wasn't another lost prospect.
Raji is the type of defensive tackle who can play in the 3-4 or 4-3 which will only enhance his draft status. Earned 1st team All-ACC honors his senior year while being the main cog in the #5 ranked defense in the nation. Boston College also ranked #1 in the ACC in total defense as well as 1st against the run to include one of Raji's most dominant performances against Maryland which they gave up a net gain of -6 yards rushing. B.J. projects very well to the next level. Raji faced some adversity already in his young career and overcame that with flying colors. He is mentally tough. Coming from a family that migrated here from Nigeria has contributed to his work ethic which he gets from his father, who is about to receive his doctorate in theology and divinity. I don't know about you, but to me that is just an added bonus for this young man. He knows what hard work is, so he will continue to get better at the next level.
At the point of attack Raji has tossed lineman around at times this past season. Gets up field in a hurry and will pursue the ball until the whistle. Blessed with fluid hips for a man his size, has a pretty good spin move to go with his signature bull rush. Raji can control the line of scrimmage and read/react very well. Although his stamina was in question during his freshman and sophomore years, he has shown no signs of early fatigue during his senior campaign.
Raji is equally good against the run as he is the pass. he lacks an arsenal of pass-rush moves, but that can be fixed with proper coaching. He also misses the easy tackle on occasion which also can be fixed through the right coaching. If Raji gets under the tutelage of a top defensive line coach and/or coordinator he can become scary for offenses to deal with. Due to Raji's lack of experience he would benefit greatly by this as well as being apart of a rotation instead of being 'the guy' right away. Raji was able to produce at a very high rate this year without missing a game. Raji is the total package and should be a very good player on the next level.
325 pound (plus) defensive tackles with his quickness, strength and athletic ability don't come around every year and Raji will probably get drafted much higher than what most people think, he could even be off the board at the 10-15 range in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Year GP TKL TFL Sack
2004 - 11 13 1.5 0
2005 - 11 27 6.5 1.5
2006 - 12 23 8.5 3
2008 - 13 42 16 7
I would like to add he has the best spin move for a guy his size I have ever seen.
Of course I cant think of anyone his size that I have seen do a spin move.