Coming out of South Carolina State, not many knew who Javon Hargrave was. Even his first time on a national stage, an injury replacement for the Senior Bowl, made him essentially unrecognizable; his red, nameless jersey, white, blank helmet for the final practice where he ended up dominating.
That caught the eye of John Mitchell and the Steelers who eventually took him in the third round of the 2016 draft. Since then, Hargrave has been the immediate and clear-cut nose tackle and played even better in 2017 than his stellar rookie year.
Calling him a household name is a stretch but for those who study the game, they’ve taken notice. Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn ranked roughly a bazillion defensive tackles for NFL 1000. Hargrave, the only Steeler on the list, came in at an excellent 16th place. Here’s what Thorn had to say about his game.
“He slips off blocks and is capable of back-dooring runs in the backfield. The second-year player is exceptionally difficult to reach-block, showing elite lateral quickness to explode out of his stance and expand to maintain outside leverage.”
Thorn, who is one of the brightest guys in the media, goes into greater detail about Hargrave’s game so be sure to check out the rest of his description. It’s all spot on, and Thorn notes the effort and chase Hargrave plays with, something Mitchell and company have fostered in him since becoming a Steeler.
Hargrave finished with a NFL 1000 grade of 69, earning high marks for his snap quickness (19/25) and run defense (17/25).
Though the numbers might not look spectacular, it’s largely due a lack of opportunity. As we pointed out recently, he still isn’t seeing much work as a nickel pass rusher, sent to the bench because of Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt, the two workhorses who are getting paid like guys who need to get after the QB.
When we broke down his pressure rate, it had a noticeable climb from his rookie season. And much of what he does doesn’t show up in the box score. The Steelers have a new-age nose tackle. And guys, he’s a good one.