BC Pro Day Part Two

BC held its annual Pro Day for interested NFL scouts. In Part Two of our coverage, Eagle Insider spent time with BJ Raji and Ron Brace. Both are projected to hear their name called early on draft day

After five years of playing at Boston College, tackles BJ Raji and Ron Brace are done. Now all they can do is wait and see what happens April 25 in the draft. Both players performed for scouts at the NFL Combine and now also at BC's Pro Day.

Twenty scouts represented fifteen teams at the event; the New York Jets had the largest showing, with their general manager, defensive coordinator, and a general scout in attendance. They watched as Raji and Brace, along with current and former teammates as well as other local players, completed strength, conditioning, and position drills.

Raji chose not to run the 40 yard dash at Pro Day, after running it in 5.13 seconds at the NFL Draft Combine. Raji explained, "I was pretty satisfied with my run at the Combine. I believe that running again would have put more emphasis on my 40, and I'm trying to put more emphasis on my film, to show that I can compete when I need to compete."

He definitely did prove his abilities in his game-by-game performance this year. Raji led the team with 16 tackles for a loss, eight sacks, and three quarterback hurries, and was third with five pass break-ups and totaled 42 tackles on the season. Following his great season, Raji was named to the All-ACC First Team and Third Team All-American by the Associated Press and Scout.com.

Academic reasons forced Raji to redshirt the 2007 season. However, he feels that it helped his game and his situation going into the draft. Raji said, "I was on the scout team, so I got a chance to improve my football play a little bit, against some top guys." Raji's projected place in the draft improved over that which was being discussed a year ago. He said, "You only come out if you're a first rounder, maybe high second round. I was seeing third round, and I was like ‘I'm coming back.'" Now, he is looking to go in the top ten, possibly as early as fourth.

Raji has been a strong contributor to BC's teams over the past few years. That is what he would highlight given the opportunity to write his own scouting report. He said, "First of all: great competitor, great team player who loves to win. I work my tail off; I'm as asset for the team."

Known for its offensive linemen in the NFL, BC has two defensive linemen expected to go early in the draft this year. "[Brace] was my roommate for the Senior Bowl, so we had a chance to talk about the process. We're really just having fun with it – we're both just honored to be here," said Raji. "It's typically O-Line U, so we're trying to change that."

Brace views their relationship similarly. He said, "As soon as he came in, from the first day we met, we've been boys ever since. We've gone through pretty much the same things, except he started playing earlier than me. Every time we're together, it's just a good time."

Pro Day allowed Brace to improve on the elements of the Combine he did not perform as well. "I was trying to do better [today] because that was the worst 40 I ever ran in my life," said Brace. "I definitely did feel a lot better about [my play today]. I think I did a lot better than I did at the Combine." He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.4 seconds in Indianapolis and dropped a few tenths of a second at BC.

Projected to be drafted in the late first or early second round, Brace is unsure of who might take him. While at the Combine, he interviewed with the Steelers, the Buccaneers, the Panthers, the Saints, the Cardinals, the Packers, the Jets, and the Redskins. Although he said, "I know [Washington] doesn't need me now that they've got Haynesworth." As of Thursday, Brace had visits to Tampa Bay and New Orleans planned.

Named to the All-ACC Second Team in 2008, Brace started in 37-straight games on the defensive line and was fourth on the team with 11 tackles for a loss and three sacks. He contributed 27 tackles each of the past two years and 85 in his career. In two games in 2008, Brace made four tackles, a career high. The first four tackle game came in the first competition of the season against Kent St, the second game in one of the last, the ACC Championship against Virginia Tech.


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