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2018 Lions draft visit tracker: Detroit hosts TE prospect Hayden Hurst for private visit

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Detroit is taking a look at one of the best TE prospects in the draft.

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South Carolina v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are hosting tight end Hayden Hurst for a private, top 30 visit on Tuesday. EVERYBODY RUN AND SCREAM AND YELL!

Okay, now that that’s out of your system, let’s talk about Hurst for a minute. Both NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett have confirmed that he is in town and even met with the Lions coaches Monday night. So, yes, this is actually happening.

Hurst is a top tight end prospect in this year’s draft class and some argue he could be the TE1 on draft day. At 6-foot-5, 250 pounds, Hurst is a pretty big target with some elite athleticism, and he turned that into pretty solid production in his three years as a South Carolina Gamecock.

2015: 5 games: 8 catches, 106 yards
2016: 13 games: 48 catches*, 616 yards*, 1 TD
2017: 13 games: 44 catches, 559 yards, 2 TDs

*South Carolina records for a tight end

Hurst is a two-sport athlete, having been drafted as a pitcher by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB draft. His character also checks out since he was the first sophomore in South Carolina history to be named a team captain.

However, there’s a caveat there: He was a 23-year-old sophomore, and, yes, that means he will be a 25-year-old rookie in the NFL. To some, that may be a benefit, as he’ll come with a little more maturity than some of his fellow prospects, but, obviously, he’ll likely come with a shorter shelf life in the NFL, considering he’ll be four years older than some others in his draft class.

The Detroit Lions are in okay shape for 2018 with their tight end crew. Though they cut Eric Ebron, they added both Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo this offseason. However, tight end remains a long-term need because both Willson and Toilolo are on just one-year contracts. That means among the tight ends expected to significantly contribute in 2018, only Michael Roberts is signed beyond this season.

Hurst’s value in this draft differs depending on who you ask. Some believe he’s a viable candidate to go in the first round. Would he be an Eric Ebron replacement in Detroit? Hard to say. He’s not nearly as athletic as Ebron and isn’t the mismatch that Ebron theoretically provided. However, his maturity level is much higher and he’s arguably got the best hands of any tight end in this class—he only had three drops in 103 catchable passes during his entire SC career, per Pro Football Focus’ Draft Guide.

The Lions aren’t likely to spend their first-round pick on a guy like Hurst, given their bigger needs and the likelihood that the board will drop at least one better prospect to them. However, if the Lions decided to trade back, or feel like using a second or third-round pick on Hurst, it could be a solid pickup for an underrated position of need.

Poll

When should the Lions target TE Hayden Hurst?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    1st round
    (17 votes)
  • 25%
    2nd round
    (185 votes)
  • 40%
    3rd round
    (295 votes)
  • 21%
    4th or later
    (161 votes)
  • 10%
    Never
    (74 votes)
732 votes total Vote Now