For all the things that went well for the Raiders in 2019, there wasn’t much to like about the defense. They frequently gave up a ton of points and a ton of yards. There are promising players at almost every level of the defense, but they need to continue getting better. Especially on the defensive line.
The Raiders are excited about their young defensive ends. However, there are some questions mark on the interior. Maurice Hurst has looked really strong at times but is inconsistent. Johnathan Hankins is a strong run stopper and figures to be in the team’s future plans. One player to keep an eye on is P.J. Hall, who was a second-round pick by the team in 2018. He started a handful of games for the team in 2019 and made some good plays but general manager Mike Mayock put the defensive tackle on blast at the combine.
“P.J.’s got a challenge,” Mayock said, via Vic Tafur. “We have a new defensive line coach coming in, and trust me, (new defensive line coach) Rod Marinelli doesn’t put up with anything but 100 percent hustle. Nothing but.”
Ouch, those are some pretty harsh words from Mayock and it’s interesting that he’d say that in public. Obviously, the team has concerns about his effort on every play. If there’s anything head coach Jon Gruden can’t stand, it’s players who don’t work hard. Hall needs to step it up during the offseason or he might not even make it past training camp. He was one of Gruden’s first draft picks when he joined the team so that helps his chances. However, Mayock didn’t draft him so he has no reason to be attached to him.
Hall Was One of the Top Graded Raiders in 2019, per PFF
Though his effort has come into question, there’s no denying Hall has talent. According to Pro Football Focus (courtesy of Raiders Beat), Hall was the second-highest graded defended on the Raiders in 2019. He had a better grade than Maxx Crosby, Trayvon Mullen, Johnathan Hankins and more. The only player on the Raider defense that graded higher than him was Maurice Hurst.
Hall started 12 games for the team and notched 26 combined tackles. He also got 1.5 sacks on the years. While not huge numbers, they were improvements over his rookie season.
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Should Hall Be Concerned?
Yes, Hall should be very concerned. Even though there is a different regime in charge, the Raiders have not been good to their second-round pick. Three of their last five second-round picks are no longer with the team. Obi Melifonwu, Jihad Ward and Mario Edwards all did not fare well with the team.
Gruden won’t be super keen on letting a recent second-round pick go – especially one that he picked. That said, if they don’t feel like Hall puts in enough effort, he’s going to be toast. The defensive tackle definitely heard Mayock’s word loud and clear. It’s up to him now if he’s going to prove the general manager wrong. Marinelli isn’t going to go easy on Hall. It’ll be a make or break offseason for him.