Every year we see a Michigan or Michigan State player get drastically overhyped by their respective fan bases. Darqueze Dennard was a sure fire top 10 pick, Jourdan Lewis a lock for the first round, and why is nobody hyping Amara Darboh more? Both schools have legitimate talent every season, but like every college fanbase it can get a little crazy when it comes to projecting those players to the NFL. People fanboy out, I get it. This season, there is only really one player from either team getting a huge amount of hype, and I’ve watched enough of him to let Michigan fans know they don’t need to pump the brakes on this one. Maurice Hurst is a legitimate top talent in the 2018 NFL Draft, and a player worth pounding the table for.
Weight: 280 pounds
Current Projection: Top 5 to late first round
The first thing that’s going to come up during the run up to the draft with Hurst, aside from his undeniable talent, is his less-than-ideal size. Hurst is currently projected to measure in at around 15 pounds short of where you’d consider it acceptable for a defensive tackle to weigh. That right there is probably the end to any concerns about athletic ability or NFL projection. He needs some cheeseburgers. There are DTs currently playing under the normal expected NFL DT weight who have done not only well, but great over the past few years, and it’s possible there is already a shift towards smaller, but more explosive, tackles on the interior with enough versatility to swing outside on occasion.
2014 - 3 tackles, 1TFL
2015 - 35 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 6.5 TFL
2016 - 33 tackles, 5.0 sacks, 11.5 TFL, 1FF, 1FR, 1PD
2017 (so far) - 38 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 9.0 TFL, 1FF
At first glance, Hurst’s defensive production is alright, but not particularly flashy. This is where you need the context of the defensive line that he’s playing on. Hurst is one of the more disruptive parts of a very strong Michigan defensive front that has Rashan Gary headlining. That isn’t meant to paint Hurst as a second fiddle, only to point out that there’s plenty of meat getting eaten by that DL. For the Detroit Lions, Hurst would play a 3-tech role, taking advantage of the space that A’Shawn Robinson commands on the interior. With Robinson taking as much attention as he has been, the Lions need someone who can penetrate up the middle with some serious ferocity, which is where someone of Maurice Hurst’s abilities comes in.
Outlook for the Lions
Hurst has been rising up draft boards, though he’s almost always been considered a first-round prospect. He is still sitting right about where the Lions are projected to pick in the mid-to-late first round, but it’s possible he could rise even further and leapfrog Washington’s Vita Vea as the consensus top tackle. At the time of this writing, there are three ‘sure fire’ first rounders at DT: Vea, Hurst, and Clemson’s Christian Wilkins, and the Lions should be in range to grab at least one of them. If it’s Mo Hurst, you can be prepared to see a brutally difficult task for opposing offensive coordinators trying to figure out how to account for a Hurst/Robinson pairing.