When someone mentions South Carolina State University, many people wouldn't know much about the school, team or the institution. The die hard 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers fans would remember it was the school where Donnie Shell came from, but other than that, most would draw a blank.
For that reason, and many more, most experts overlooked Javon Hargrave in the 2016 NFL Draft. Sure, he played against some sub-par competition, but was his dominance something which can be strictly overlooked? Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell spoke glowingly of Hargrave after the team selected him in the third round of the draft, and on several occasions mentioned his dominance and not "playing down" to the level of his competition.
Just as we did with the team's top draft pick Artie Burns, we will allow the film to do the talking. So, instead of listening to the talking heads, let your eyes show you what Hargrave is all about.
If you are new to film breakdowns, here are some simple aspects of the film you can keep an eye on:
- Pad level off the snap
- Hand placement at the point of contact
- Leverage against offensive linemen
- Interior pass rushing technique
- Speed / First step
- Ability to "eat up" blockers
South Carolina State vs. DSU
There is no denying Hargrave can play football, but what will the learning curve be for a player who hails from a HBCU to the NFL? There will naturally be a learning curve, but how large a curve will likely determine just how much playing time Hargrave will be vying for in 2016.
When posed the question of which rookie could see the most playing time next season, most say Hargrave. After all, he plays a position with no true starter, and very little depth. He could spell Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt in sub packages, and be the spark plug at nose tackle the team has missed since Casey Hampton retired. Throw in the simplicity of the nose tackle position, and you might have yourself a winner.
However, I choose to pump the brakes a bit on Hargrave based on that learning curve I spoke about earlier. In the video he isn't going against the likes of Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and David DeCastro. I realize no rookies along the defensive line did either, but don't you think SEC competition would prepare a player more for the NFL than South Carolina State?
I hope I am wrong about Hargrave, and I am not suggesting he won't be a tremendous player for the team, but when it comes to his contributions as a rookie, I have my hesitations. Let's hope he proves me wrong and makes me eat crow...I'd love nothing more.