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B.J. Raji, one of BC’s BIG bookend defensive tackles along with draft eligible Ron Brace (6’3″, 324), will be donning the uniform of the Green Bay Packers next season after being taken with the ninth pick. Raji, a 6’1″-323 pound senior from Washington Township, New Jersey, was up and down draft boards in recent weeks after Sports Illustrated, and then recanted a couple weeks later, that Raji had failed his drug test. That added to probably the only other concern that teams had, that he had missed the 2007 season due to academic ineligibilty. However, his potential won out as the sizeable player, who is athletic given his girth, looks to help with pressuring quarterbacks and stopping the run.
For Boston College, this makes three first rounders in the last two drafts and four in the last four years in what has become a golden age for the university. BC has been winning consistently for over a decade now and is churning out consistent, if not star, players now. Matt Ryan went number three overall to the Falcons last season and was Rookie of the Year and guided them to the playoffs while pushing the Mike Vick issues into Atlanta’s past. Gosder Cherilus was the 17th to Detroit last season and started initially, but was benched as he did not appear to be putting forth full effort amid the Lion’s dreadful 0-16 season. Mathias Kiwanuka was the 32nd pick in 2006 to the Giants and has become a very versatile defensive lineman in New York and was a big part of the defense that ended the Patriot’s perfect season two years ago.
Raji had his best season last year, recording highs in tackles (42), solo (22), assists (20), tackles for loss (16), and sacks (7). His efforts earned him All-ACC First Team honors last season. For his career, he recorded 99 tackles and nine sacks. He punctuated last season with three sacks against North Carolina State and former head coach Tom O’Brien. He also led BC’s run stuffing unit, which for the past few years has been among the nation’s best, including seventh last season yielding only 91.2 yards per game.
Having watched Raji and the BC defensive line in recent years, this man can play. What astounds me most about him is how athletic he is for his size. His responsibilities lie in the trenches, but he can move those 320+ pounds around the line very well. He is fundamentally sound in closing lanes and is a bear when he gets his arms around the ball carrier. He is the first BC defensive tackle to go in the first round since 2000 when the Vikings took Chris Hovan (now with Tampa Bay) 25th overall.