Raiders Cut Former High Draft Pick & Starter on the Defensive Line

pj hall maurice hurst

Getty P.J. Hall & Maurice Hurst.

Former second-round picks aren’t typically on the chopping block after only two seasons with a team but the writing was on the wall for P.J. Hall. Just last week Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden put the former second-rounder on blast for showing up to camp overweight last training camp. It appears that might have been the case this year as the team has decided to cut Hall, according to Ian Rapoport.

General manager Mike Mayock also called out Hall at the NFL Combine in February so this news isn’t all the surprising. However, it does seem weird that the Raiders would give up on him after only two seasons. Hall was a Gruden draft pick so it’s not like their just continuing to move off of Jack Del Rio holdovers.

The Raiders brought in Maliek Collins and Daniel Ross to play on the interior of the defensive line this offseason. There’s certainly less room to carry dead weight on the defensive line but getting rid of Hall after two seasons seems too early, especially since he started 12 games last year.

Maurice Hurst & Arden Key Should Be Sweating

So far, the 2018 draft class for the Raiders is looking like a mixed bag. First-round pick Kolton Miller looks like he has the potential to be with the team for a long time but he’s the only player who could end up having a long-term future with them. Arden Key and Maurice Hurst were two other defensive linemen who were drafted that year and Gruden recently called both of them out.

Hurst has actually been one the team’s better defenders so it seems odd they might not like him. Key has a lot of potential but injuries and the inability to keep on weight have hurt his progress. It seems unlikely that the Raiders would give up on both of them already. The problem with Hall is that he was showing up to training camp out of shape. That’s a big red flag for somebody like Gruden. There’s been no indication that Key and Hurst aren’t hard workers. That said, they’ll both need big training camps if they hope to have roles with the team this year.

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Maliek Collins Is Likely to Have Big Role

With Hall on the way out, it’s pretty clear the Raiders are expecting free agent signee Maliek Collins to have a big role on the defensive line. The former Dallas Cowboy is very familiar with new defensive line coach Rod Marinelli and could help boost the interior pass rush for the team.

“I think Maliek Collins is a name that we got to circle and look at every single day,” Gruden said recently. “I think that three-technique in this defense has to raise hell and he’s got to do it for us.”

Outside of Hurst last season, the Raiders didn’t get a lot of pressure on the inside. Collins should help change that. He doesn’t get a lot of sacks but he has one of the best pass rush win rates in the NFL.

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