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B.J. Raji - Another Possibility for Our First Draft Pick

This morning, we reviewed some of the latest mock drafts and discovered that our first pick is currently projected to be one of the following players: Aaron Curry - Wake Forest Linebacker, Brian Orakpo - Texas Defensive End, Michael Crabtree - Texas Tech Wide Receiver, Aaron Maybin - Penn State Defensive End, or BJ Raji - Boston College Defensive Tackle.
We have analyzed previously on this website both Curry and Orakpo. We would rather not give more attention to Crabtree as we do not support him being a serious contender for our first draft selection (there are several reasons including his foot injury and resulting surgery, his immaturity, the availability of free agent receivers to add depth, the availability of other good receivers later in the draft, and the simple fact that we believe we should use our first selection on a defensive player notwithstanding the current situation with Donte Stallworth).
We analyzed Aaron Maybin long ago; and in fact we supported him being seriously considered from the get-go because of his pass rush skills (which are superior to those of Curry). It seems unlikely, however, that Maybin will be selected, thus, we will not spend more time on him in this post.
That leaves BJ. Raji is 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighs about 340 pounds. His average 40-time is around 5.13 seconds. BJ was named to the first-team All-ACC in 2008. He sat out the 2007 season for academic reasons. He has a temper; he was ejected from a game in 2006 for throwing a punch. He has also had injury problems including a shoulder injury which required surgery. He has had weight problems in that he has been more than 350 pounds at times, although he is most effective at no more than 330 pounds.
His statistics in 2008 were very impressive: 13 games played; 42 tackles; 16 tackles for loss; and 8 sacks.
General Strengths
Raji is versatile in that he could rather easily play in a 3-4 or 4-3 defensive scheme. His strength is awesome. At the point of attack he is stout and powerful. One blocker cannot handle BJ. He can collapse running lanes quickly yet his ability to penetrate the backfield and pressure the QB is also above average. One could argue he is more balanced against the run and the pass than either Curry or Orakpo. His bulk and mass do not sacrifice his raw athletic ability in that he is fairly agile. His overall speed is not great but his closing pursuit is quick. He demonstrates solid awareness on the field in terms of anticipating the moves of running backs and QBs.
General Weaknesses
BJ's weight issues have led to conditioning, stamina and energy problems. He is a little shorter than the ideal height at his position. His temper and maturity level have at times been questioned, however, we think the one incident in 2006 has been somewhat overemphasized. His level of commitment to training has not always been solid. His academic struggles have led to concerns about him being easily distracted and unmotivated. His motor is inconsistent on the field, leading to durability questions.
Overall Impression
BJ will make a very good pick for any Team, generally speaking. But we would not place him above Orakpo or Curry for the Browns. We would currently rank the five players being mentioned in most mock drafts as follows for the Browns' first pick if we keep our number 5 pick overall in the upcoming college Draft.
1. Brian Orakpo (because of his edge over Curry in pass rush)
2. Aaron Curry
3. Aaron Maybin (a virtual tie in our opinion with Raji)
4. BJ Raji (a virtual tie in our opinion with Maybin)
5. Michael Crabtree
This is likely academic as we expect the Chiefs will select Curry before we pick.
Go Browns!
Devo's Cleveland Browns

1 comment:

  1. He sounds like a less talented Albert Haynesworth. But you know, he wasn't a stud right away. I am not as high as y'all on Orakpo. Norakpo. To me Curry is the best fit, if he is available.
    Crabtree would be awesome. But I agree, unless he is around in the second round (yeah right) then we should leave him alone at 5.
    I still think another first round pick is an option. At that point I hope that the running back position can get a little better. I might be the biggest Jamal Lewis fan, when he is wearing the right color jersey, but he needs somebody to carry the load with him so he can play into his 30's. If that happens, the Browns could potentially have a Hall of Famer on their roster. All we need are some rings!