Thursday, 22 January 2009

Why the Seahawks won't consider B.J. Raji

A few people have left comments on the blog asking - will the Seahawks think about taking B.J. Raji with their first round pick? No doubt he's been the toast of the Senior Bowl so far getting universal praise from nearly every reporter and scout in Mobile. The quality of the guys Raji is coming up against is debatable - not even Duke Robinson (G, Oklahoma) is working out due to a shoulder injury.

But here's the reasons why Seattle may not be selecting Raji, at least not in the first round. Tim Ruskell will be looking for someone who is a 'safe' pick. When you're investing such a high pick and so much money, you don't want a guy who is going to be often injured or a liability in the locker room.

Raji sat out the 2007 season when Boston College red shirted him due to 'academic issues'. He returned in 2008 for his senior year. Aside from these problems in the classroom Raji was also ejected from a game with Central Michigan and subsequently suspended for punching an opponent. These are clear character red flags. It might be something you can look passed in the later rounds but certainly not with the money involved with the fourth overall pick. The big defensive tackle also missed all of Spring practise in 2008 with a shoulder injury and this is something that also needs to be researched.

But it's not only character problems that make Raji an unlikely fit. The Seahawks rotate their defensive tackles so often during a game. Even Brandon Mebane is regularly subbed in and out of games. Unless the Seahawks dramatically change their ideology concerning the DT position (and I accept a change isn't impossible with a new coaching staff in place) then taking a big tackle early would constitute a large investment on somebody who may only feature for approximately 35 snaps per game.

Nonetheless, it appears the attention Raji is getting could propel him into the top echelons of the 2009 NFL draft. It's unlikely the Seahawks will rule anybody out completely this early in the draft process, but my guess is that there will be a number of prospects ahead of Raji when the Seahawks are on the clock. If they trade down, possibly out of the top 10, then Raji becomes a more attractive proposition. Even then the character issues arguably don't fit the Ruskell criteria.

William P. Tomisser reports on Raji's rise at Seahawk Addicts.

Rob Rang writes about the impact Raji and fellow DT Peria Jerry have had at the Senior Bowl.

Shawn Zobel compares Raji to Sedrick Ellis, who similarly rose up drafts boards after an impressive Senior Bowl.

Matt McGuire says Raji has learnt his schemes quickly in practise and continues to draw a 'buzz'.

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