Prospects

Prospects
Photo of B.J. Raji
B.J. Raji (DT)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 337
Conference: ACC
Hometown: Washington Twp., NJ
High School: Westwood Regional
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Green Bay Packers
Round: 1
Pick (Overall): 9 (9)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The Packers pick up a dominating nose tackle to anchor their new 3-4 defense. Raji excels at whipping double teams, and his presence in the middle will keep blockers off A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett. Though many thought the Packers would opt for a pass rusher, the decision to fortify their run defense will go a long way toward helping them increase their sack total.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Raji made a successful return to the field in 2008 after sitting out the previous season due to academic issues. He re-joined teammate Ron Brace in the middle of the front wall, as they proved to be one of the most feared defensive tackle tandems in college football.


With those two anchored in the middle of the line, they combined for 11 of the team's 35 sacks (31.43 percent) and 27 of the Eagles' 108 tackles behind the line of scrimmage (25.0 percent). Raji led a unit that led the Atlantic Coast Conference in rush defense (91.21 ypg, seventh in the NCAA) and total defense (268.14 ypg, ranked fifth nationally).


At Westwood Regional High School, Raji earned All-State, All-North Jersey and All-County honors as a senior. The three-time starter was a two-time All-Bergen County Scholastic League choice, as he played on both the offensive and defensive lines.


As a senior, Raji recorded 75 tackles, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2003. He was selected to play in the 2004 Governor's Bowl, which pits the top high-school seniors in New Jersey vs. their New York counterparts. He also played on Westwood's basketball team as a freshman and sophomore.


Raji enrolled at Boston College in 2004, seeing action in 11 games behind Tim Bulman at right defensive tackle. He collected 13 tackles (6 solos) with 1.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage. Having bulked up to 320 pounds in a rigorous offseason program, he captured the right tackle starting position in 2005, posting 27 tackles (15 solos) with 6.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, including 1.5 sacks his sophomore campaign.


Raji saw constant double-team blocking in 2006, as he started 12 games at right tackle. He garnered All-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team honors, as he delivered 23 tackles (16 solos) with three sacks and 8.5 stops for losses. Two of his three pass breakups came on third-down plays.


Primed for a banner senior season, Raji had to wait another year for that to occur, as he was ruled academically ineligible to play in 2007. He came back with renewed hunger, going on to register a career-high 42 tackles (22 solos), including a team-high eight sacks and 16.0 stops behind the line of scrimmage. He also became the first Eagle defensive tackle since Mike Ruth in 1985 to lead the team in sacks. He added three pressures and deflected five passes at the line of scrimmage.


High School

Attended Westwood Regional (Washington Township, N.J.) High School, playing football for head coach Joe Gambardella...Earned All-State, All-North Jersey and All-County honors as a senior...The three-time starter was a two-time All-Bergen County Scholastic League choice, as he played on both the offensive and defensive lines...As a senior, Raji recorded 75 tackles, 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles in 2003...Selected to play in the 2004 Governor's Bowl, which pits the top high-school seniors in New Jersey vs. their New York counterparts...Also played on Westwood's basketball team as a freshman and sophomore.


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Analysis

Positives: Flashes rare burst off the snap for a man his size and can penetrate into the backfield and disrupt the play without necessarily making the tackle. Good strength and mass at the point of attack to create a pile. Good short-area lateral quickness. Experienced. Missed the 2007 season due to academics, but leaves BC with 38 career starts. Locates the ball quickly and works to make the play. At his best lining up at the nose, though he flashes the initial burst off the snap to be effective as the under-tackle in the 4-3 alignment. Strong enough to pull down ballcarriers with just his arms. Arguably the single-most dominant player during the week of practice at the Senior Bowl.


Negatives: Marginal height for the position. Only adequate to shed blocks due to his short arms and lack of sustained quickness. Rare quickness in confined space, but lacks the speed to sustain and struggles to make an impact outside of the guard box. Flashes the burst off the snap for the three-technique (under tackle in the 4-3 alignment), but is only a marginal pass rusher. Relies on his initial burst off the snap and an occasional spin move to pressure. Reliable tackler, but lacks the balance and lateral quickness to break down and make the tackle in space. Most effective when operating as part of a rotation. Maturity is a concern. Has struggled with his weight, playing in 2006 at more than 350 pounds. Was suspended for the first half of the Clemson game in 2006 for throwing a punch at a Central Michigan player. Missed the entire 2007 season due to academics.


Compares To: SHAUN ROGERS, Cleveland -- Rogers is about three inches bigger than Raji, but both have the awesome ability to change the tide of a game on the field and frustrate coaches by their lack of work ethic away from it. Raji had a good senior campaign, but it was not earth-shattering. You have to look at the whole picture here. Is your team going to get a player motivated and hungry to prove his doubters wrong, or a player his former coaching staff had to constantly monitor. That's a lot of money to gamble on someone that can either dominate for you or get a general manager fired.


Injury Report

2007: Suffered a shoulder contusion during the first day of spring drills (4/01) and missed more than half of camp.


2008: Held out of spring drills after undergoing shoulder surgery (4/08).


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