VT NFL Draft Prospect Spotlight: DT Maurice Hurst
Maurice Hurst | DT, Michigan
Weight: 282 pounds
Mid-Late 1st Round
First Step/Burst: Speed off the ball and burst are great tests for defensive linemen. Those that possess it are at an advantage, as it helps when matched up against offensive linemen. Hurst’s first-step is the first trait that jumps off the screen when watching his film — it’s elite.
His ability to penetrate through the offensive front at the line of scrimmage and disrupt the backfield is a plus. As shown in the example above, Hurst has an uncanny ability to consistently beat blockers off of the ball.
He’s labeled as a “snap jumper” by some evaulators, but that’s just him being savvy as a player. Savvy players use everything to their advantage, and that’s exactly what Hurst does. The biggest hinderance to a team’s ground game is a rusher that can penetrate. Hurst is that and even more.
It’s not that he’s such a good rusher up the field, though; he consistently maintains his natural leverage, pad level, and ability to get up the field very quickly. At times, blockers are seldom able to react to his quick movements, and before they’re even able to get out of their stance, he is already in the backfield.
Awareness: Hurst seems to have an uncanny knack for the football. He has a very high football I.Q. and understands specific blocking schemes. Not only is he a penetrating pass-rusher, but a positive is that he’s also a well-rounded run defender.
A senior in 2017, Hurst has played a healthy number of collegiate snaps. He has seen it all and rarely appears confused by offensive scheme. His development has improved every season, as was evident with his increase in sacks and tackles-for-loss every season of his career as a Wolverine.
Motor/Penetration: Being that he is a smaller three-technique defensive tackle, Hurst uses his quick twitch abilities and relentlessness to his advantage. His effort is always at a high level, and his motor is always flaming hot.
Because Hurst is a smaller in stature, he understands that he has to utilize his athleticism and smarts to his advantage, because he doesn’t possess the measurables of an adequate sized player at his position.
Size: Listed at 282 pounds, Hurst is smaller than the average NFL defensive tackle. He lacks the girth and build of a team’s ideal three-technique and this concern is evident on film as well. Ohio State (2017) was one of his worst games of the season.
What you saw in that contest was his inability to maintain gaps and easily getting moved by double teams off of his spots. Hurst can sometimes be easily pushed around when matched up against powerful interior offensive lines.
Arm Length: Something that you don’t see a lot with Hurst is the ability to reset his hands after initial contact and shed blockers. This is due to his below average arm length. Once blockers are able to get their hands on him, he struggles to shed them because of his shorter reach.
Hurst’s father, Maurice Hurst Sr., was drafted in the fourth-round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. His father would go on to play cornerback for the Patriots until 1995. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has repeatedly said how humble Maurice Hurst, Jr. is. The star defensive tackle is an Uber driver during the offseason. His Wolverine teammates have repeatedly commented on how he constantly bragged about his 82 5-star ratings from his satisfied customers.
With Tom Johnson set to become an unrestricted free agent and the unknown status of Sharrif Floyd after undergoing an unsuccessful knee operation in 2016, the Vikings have a huge hole at defensive tackle. Maurice Hurst would not only fill a huge need, but he would give Mike Zimmer’s defense that young, penetrating three-technique that it has sorely lacked. Adding Hurst alongside Linval Joseph gives the franchise a ferocious interior.
Hurst is an ideal fit in Zimmer’s defensive front because he plays with a non-stop motor, proper technique, and is exactly what Zimmer looks for in a defensive tackle. Hurst would essentially fill the “Geno Atkins role” in the team’s front-four. His snap awareness, I.Q., burst, and acceleration will enable him to be a contributor early on in his career.
It may be wishful thinking that Hurst slips all way to Minnesota at No. 30 overall, but as we all know, many unpredictable things happen during the NFL Draft.
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