Javon Hargrave was not at the center of attention in his first preseason game, but he quietly had a solid first performance in a Steelers' uniform. Pittsburgh's third round draft pick out of South Carolina State had the kind of performance that wouldn't get him on highlight tapes, but that inspire promise in the potential of a young defensive tackle with his use of fundamentals.
We breakdown the things we liked from Friday night out of Hargrave in the film room.
Explosive off the snap:
This quick pass does not give Hargrave any window to get to the quarterback, but that does not stop him from getting off the ball and changing the line of scrimmage. Notice how he gets off the ball quickly and into the center, forcing him backwards. Hargrave showed this consistently throughout the game and it can be seen in each of the GIFs we have on him here. Defensive tackles are all about gaining leverage to dominate the line of scrimmage and the first step of doing so is having a great first step off the ball.
Showed he has pass rush moves
Defensive tackles that can rush the passer are not a common commodity in the NFL. However Hargrave got after the quarterback more than once in this game and that caught our attention. This play in particular is exciting to see because his quick burst off the ball gets him across the face of the center and then he follows that with a solid rip move that gets him into the backfield. Hargrave single-handedly breaks this play up by himself with a great pass rush move in the red zone.
Fundamentals look good:
The last two plays showed Hargrave getting off the ball against the pass, but he also looked more than adequate against the run Friday night. Watch how this play begins with him standing the center up and winning the hand battle to get his hands inside of the center's hands. He gains control at the point of attack and doesn't allow himself to be moved out of the hole. While Shazier made the play regardless, this play was a solid show of fundamentals against the run and continues in line with our observations that Hargrave has solid fundamentals in his rookie year.
Best rookie of the night
In a game where Sean Davis was probably the most watched rookie, Hargrave looked to have the best performance of this draft class in the first game. He changed the line of scrimmage and looked to be just what the Steelers' drafted him to be, an interior lineman that can work between Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, or even work into the rotation with each of those two players.
Let this initial performance sink in for a bit, but also don't think that this means the Steelers have an all-star. Hargrave shows the makings of a good player in this first performance, but there is a lot of football left in the preseason to see if he can continue to be consistent as he faces different teams and reviews his work. Still, for a team that is looking for a solid replacement of Steve McLendon, Hargrave certainly made a case to compete with Dan McCullers for snaps at defensive tackle.