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NFL Draft prospect to know: PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston State

A name to watch for the Cowboys on day three of the draft.

NCAA Football: East-West Shrine Game Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Blogging The Boys will take a look at some of the NFL Draft prospects that will be in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Some weeks, we will look at potential targets that will be within the Cowboys’ expected draft range. Others, we will highlight some of the elite members of the class.

The focus among Cowboys fans recently has been centered around what Dallas will decide to do with the 19th selection in the first-round this April. The signings of Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson make the wide receiver position less of an immediate need, but don’t completely rule out Calvin Ridley or DJ Moore being the pick when the Cowboys come on the clock inside AT&T Stadium.

Other popular day one choices include the defensive tackles Vita Vea and Da’ron Payne, the linebackers Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Rashaan Evans, and Leighton Vander Esch, and the defensive ends Marcus Davenport and Harold Landry, and the offensive guards Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez.

Whatever you think the choice should be in round one, the Cowboys have an entire seven-round draft to fill out. With ten picks, don’t be surprised if the front office is active. But who is a prospect that Cowboys fans should have their eyes on that should be available on day three? We recently gave five defensive prospects to know.

We’ll go a little more in-depth on one today.

PJ Hall — defensive tackle, Sam Houston State

6-foot-1
310
Senior

NCAA Football: East-West Shrine Game Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, we took a look at a defensive lineman that played his college ball in the Lone Star State. Marcus Davenport, and edge rusher from UTSA, will likely be a first-round draft pick come late April.

This week, however, we are looking at someone a little more under-the-radar. He is a defensive lineman playing on a team in Texas, but he won’t be a first-round pick. Or a second-rounder. Probably not a third-rounder, either. You get the point: he is a potential diamond in the rough for a team that takes a chance on him on day three.

P.J. Hall is a defensive tackle that received little-to-no hype coming out of high school. In fact, Sam Houston State is the only listed offer that the Seguin native had in the 2013 recruiting class. Hall went on to have a career that makes some FBS schools look insane for not offering him a scholarship.

After redshirting his initial season on campus, Hall became an instant contributor for the Bearkats in 2014. The big-bodied defensive lineman played in 16 games that season at the defensive end position, making 93 total tackles, 24 tackles-for-loss, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles, one interception, and five blocked kicks! Yeah, you could say he can fill out the stat-sheet. Hall received first-team All-Southland honors, the conference’s Freshman of the Year, and he came in third place for the ‘Jerry Rice Award’ - given to the best freshman on the FCS level.

A fluke season? Anything but. Hall kept his impressive play up the following season, becoming an even bigger terror for opposing quarterbacks and offensive lines. The highly-regarded sophomore played in 15 games in 2015, making 75 tackles, 50 solo tackles (+6 from 2014), 19 TFLs, 11 sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, two interceptions, and again — five blocked kicks! Even with drawing more attention from offensive coordinators, Hall made his presence felt. He was named a second team All-American and was already in the top-2 in career sacks at SHSU after just two seasons.

Maybe he would fall off his junior season, right? I mean, it’s hard to keep this level of play up — no matter the competition, But instead, Hall recorded 56 tackles, career-highs in TFLs (24.5) and sacks (13), and three more forced fumbles in 13 games. Hall was a first team All-American in 2016, and he was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award - given to the nation’s best defensive player. Not too shabby for someone that only had one offer coming out of high school.

Hall’s senior season was more of the same. Offenses couldn’t breathe and opposing coaches were counting down the days until he graduated and moved on to a professional career. Hall, in 12 games, made 60 tackles to go with 19 TFLs, six sacks, one forced fumble, one interception, and four blocked kicks. Yeah, that’s pretty impressive, to say the least.

Now, Hall is preparing for the NFL Draft. The Sam Houston State standout was not invited to the NFL Combine, but he did play in the East-West Shrine Game. But where Hall really impressed was his Pro Day. Check out his numbers and the reactions that come with it:

He even got some pub on NFL Network:

Yeah, I’d say his Pro Day has his stock rising. Brugler currently ranks him as a sixth-to-seventh-round pick, but notes that his stock is rising. Here is a look at what his strengths are from his NFL Draft profile:

STRENGTHS Staggering production. Dominated his level of competition for four years. Finished with 86.5 tackles for loss and 42 sacks for his career. Compact with explosive power. Has a 700-pound squat to his name. Quick off the snap with early hands. Sharp upward thrust into blocker establishes leverage. Owned point of attack against his competition. Able to brace up against double teams. Equally powerful with upper and lower body. Athletic and rangy as tackler. Drives under and through the guard’s edge. Corners tightly to quarterback once he’s in the pocket. Able to push pocket as bull rusher. Eyeballs quarterback and mirrors his scramble for secondary sacks. His 14 career blocked kicks is unheard of.

Futhermore, Bleacher Report’s Kerry Miller wrote on “small-school college football stars with huge NFL potential” last year. Josh Allen was included, as was Hall:

At 6’1” and 280 pounds, P.J. Hall is quite a few steak dinners away from fitting the conventional mold of a nose tackle in the NFL. But this bowling ball of a pass-rusher has been wreaking havoc on the Southland Conference over the past three years.

Hall was named the 2016 Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year, but he was actually better in previous seasons. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, he had 93 tackles, 12 sacks and five blocked kicks. He also had five blocks the following year, along with a pair of interceptions.

All told, Hall recorded 36 sacks, eight forced fumbles, three interceptions and 10 blocked kicks in his first three seasons with the Bearkats.

Hall’s stock is rising, he has ideal size for a 1-tech, and Gil Brandt says he “reminds him some” of Aaron Donald. He has an advantage of playing both end and tackle, can clearly get to the quarterback and in the backfield in general, and seems like a player that we could be wondering how he fell in the draft.


What do you think, BTB?

*Stats gathered from GoBearkats,com, unless otherwise noted.

Catch up with our previous installments below!

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Austin Bryant, DE Clemson

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Tarvarus McFadden, CB Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Martinas Rankin, OL Mississippi State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Daron Payne, DT, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Harold Landry, DE, Boston College

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Derwin James, Safety, Florida State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Ronnie Harrison, Safety, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Deontay Burnett, WR, USC

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

NFL Draft Prospect to know: Vita Vea, DT, Washington Huskies

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Mike Hughes, CB, Central Florida

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa Hawkeyes

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Deadrin Senat, DT, South Florida

NFL Draft Prospect to Know: Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA Roadrunners

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