Javon Hargrave said it as well as it can be summed up. When you’re a rookie, your BFF is your playbook. The more you know, the faster you are, the better you play, and the more successful the team.
“My playbook has been my best friend this week, just trying to get accustomed to it,” he told Steelers.com’s Teresa Varley.
Hargrave is attempting to make the difficult jump from the MEAC to the NFL. His first career start, whenever that happens, would make him the first DL from his school to start since Chartic Darby in 2008. But SCSU does boast recent NFL talent, including Phillip Adams and Rafael Bush.
The Steelers third round pick might be the most talented one to come out in years. He had a dominant career, finishing it with 37 sacks. That included ten takedowns over his final five collegiate games. It’s that skillset that had John Mitchell awfully excited after the team officially took him.
“The things that he does extremely well are things you can’t teach. He has a great first step off the ball. He plays with power,” Mitchell said.
“The things he’s going to have to learn when he comes here – he’s going to have to learn to play with his hands better. And he’s going to have to be more consistent running to the ball. That’s not going to be a problem…this kid plays very hard every down.”
And Hargrave believes he can thrive in whatever situation the team puts him in.
“I can do a little bit of everything. I am not one dimensional. I have a lot to work on, but a lot to bring. I am coming to compete every day.”
Hargrave will have to learn to play in the more complex Steelers’ defense. Not only will he be playing in a different front, he’s likely to be asked to stunt more often, making his gap integrity as a pass rusher crucial. There’s nothing worse than a well-executed stunt thwarted because of a poor contain rush.
There is certainly no evidence that Hargrave will have any struggles beyond the norm. And given how much his work ethic has been praised by people like Mitchell, when Hargrave overcomes that hurdle, he’ll make a strong impact in Pittsburgh.