Each day leading up to the 2018 NFL draft, I’ll break down one of my top 50 prospects. In some cases, we had to make tough omissions because of injuries, poor pre-draft workouts or incomplete information. For more complete scouting reports on all the prospects, check out the Pro Football Weekly 2018 Draft Guide, which is available for order now.
27. Michigan DT Maurice Hurst
6-foot-1, 291 pounds
Key stats: Set career highs in tackles (10), solo tackles (six) and tackles for loss (3.5) against Michigan State.
The skinny: The son of former New England Patriots CB Maurice Hurst never had a relationship with his father — and the younger Hurst wears No. 73, the opposite of his father’s former No. 37 — but clearly carries some of his athletic genes. Hurst arrived at Michigan highly regarded but redshirted his freshman year and was brought along slowly. He played as a reserve in seven games as a redshirt freshman in 2014 and started 4-of-13 games as a sophomore, making 35 tackles (6.5 for losses) and three sacks.
Became more of a regular on defense as a junior in 2016 with 34 tackles (11.5 for loss) and 4.5 sacks in 12 games, missing the opener with an injury. Broke out in a big way as a senior in 2017 by being named consensus first-team All-American by Associated Press and all-Big Ten first team (coaches and media). He also was named Bo Schembechler team MVP as well as Defensive Player of the Year in 2017 in making 60 tackles (13.5 for loss), five sacks and two passes defended.
Invited to Senior Bowl but opted to skip event. Attended NFL scouting combine, where he was detected to have a heart condition following an irregular EKG reading and not allowed to work out in Indianapolis. Cleared to work out for Michigan’s pro day, where he performed the 40-yard dash, vertical and broad jumps, short shuttle, 3-cone drill and the bench press.
Upside: Good strength (29 bench-press reps) and bulk. Low center of gravity. Uses his blocker’s leverage against him — can ragdoll guys and throw them past him. Good balance and lower-body power — stays on his feet pretty well for how ferociously he rushes and sacrifices his body to make plays.
Slants and shoots gaps well — outstanding burst off the snap. Gave centers and guards fits as 1- and 3-technique penetrator who forced teams to adjust their blocking schemes. Will walk his man back into the backfield, disrupting blocking schemes and allowing others to make plays. Harassed Michigan State for most of the game, especially in a dominant fourth-quarter performance. Two snaps after stuffing a fourth-down run, Hurst (No. 73) shoots inside of Spartans OG Tyler Higby to smash the running back in the hole for a loss on a 2nd-and-2 run:
Great in goal-line and short-yardage situations. Production gradually increased each season, even as he faced more attention. Frequently makes plays behind the line — 31.5 career TFL (13.5 last season).
Regarded as hardworking and well-respected within the Michigan program.
Downside: Medical concerns must be fully cleared by team doctors after combine scare. Only an average athlete, all things considered. Pro day timing numbers (40-yard dashes of 4.97/5.00 seconds; 31-inch vertical jump; 104-inch broad jump; 4.62-second short shuttle; 7.74-second 3-cone drill) are middling for his position. Short, stocky with short arms and small hands.
Snap timer who won’t gain that advantage as readily in the NFL against stronger, quicker and more disciplined offensive linemen. Gets stuck on blocks too much. Doesn’t have the lateral quickness to chase down athletic quarterbacks or keep them contained in space.
Can be induced into brawling opponents and missing out on plays to be made. Needs to have better awareness and find the ball more often. Rolling ball of knives who needs to play with a little more control and discipline at times. Watch him here against Wisconsin (a game in which he actually played very well) taking the cheese from the guard, overshooting his gap and opening up a big running lane for RB Jonathan Taylor:
Not a box-score stuffer — only 12.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in 38 career games. Lined up next to Rashan Gary, one of the top DL talents in the 2019 draft class, and benefitted from his disruptiveness.
Best-suited destination: Hurst ideally is a one-gap defender who can really help a defense’s short-yardage production and who still could be a good interior penetrator if he’s worked effectively in a rotation, likely as a 1-technique. Among the teams that would make good fits for Hurst include the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Quotable: “Going against him in practice every day, it was a battle. You had to have your hands ready and your weight underneath you. He brought it every day and made me a better player. He’s a handful. He can just mess up your whole plan on offense.” — Michigan C Mason Cole, to PFW at the Senior Bowl
Player comp: Javon Hargrave
Expected draft range: Late first round
50. Oregon RB Royce Freeman
49. South Dakota State TE Dallas Goedert
48. LSU DE-LB Arden Key
47. Ohio State C Billy Price
46. Alabama S Ronnie Harrison
45. Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph
44. Texas A&M S Armani Watts
43. South Carolina TE Hayden Hurst
42. UCF CB Mike Hughes
41. USC RB Ronald Jones II
40. Maryland WR D.J. Moore
39. UTEP OG Will Hernandez
38. Stanford DT Harrison Phillips
37. Ohio State DE Sam Hubbard
36. Stanford S Justin Reid
35. Oregon OT Tyrell Crosby
34. SMU WR Courtland Sutton
33. Penn State TE Mike Gesicki
32. Colorado CB Isaiah Oliver
31. Georgia OL Isaiah Wynn
30. Texas A and M WR Christian Kirk
29. Alabama LB Rashaan Evans
28. Alabama WR Calvin Ridley