Whenever you’re the son of a former professional athlete, expectations are always set high. Does that mean you have to become the President of the United States? No, but many people think you’re going to carry stronger genes than your parents and dominate the sport they got paid to play. For Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst, expectations were set high once he put on shoulder pads. His father, Maurice Hurst Sr., was a fourth round pick in the 1989 NFL Draft to the New England Patriots. Hurst Sr., who spent his entire career in New England, amassed 27 interceptions and 386 tackles. Once his son committed to Michigan, expectations inflated further.
Coming out of Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, Massachusetts. Maurice (Mo) Hurst was a four-star recruit and committed to Michigan. He was following his father’s footsteps and trying to make it to the NFL. Despite only playing three games as a freshman, Hurst was expected to step up as a sophomore. He did just that with 35 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and three sacks. Following his sophomore season, he was getting faster and stronger. Hurst became a force in the middle of Michigan’s defense. During the 2016 season, Hurst was the best player on Michigan’s team — yes, the same team that carried roster spots for Jabrill Peppers and Taco Charlton. Over the last two seasons, Hurst has complied 24.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks.
Unfortunately, the college football season is officially behind us. Now all we do is review film, speculate, and wait for the results. For Maurice Hurst, it’s a different story. Not only is he the highest-graded interior defender against the run, he’s a dynamic defensive lineman with an insane burst off the line of scrimmage. He screams first round talent and could very well see himself rise into the top 10 of the 2018 NFL Draft. To help solidify his status he will participate in the Senior Bowl, and I’m sure will get an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine. Let’s dive into his clips and scouting report:
- Incredible burst off the line of scrimmage with a nice bend
- Consistently low pad level, which allows him the upper hand right away
- Stronger than he gets credit for (see above)
- High motor player with the ability to finish at the point-of-attack
- Versatile player who possesses the ability to line up anywhere upfront
- Fully extended post-step to create separation and maintain his gap.
- Disruptive backfield presence who is stout vs. the run
- Reads and reacts to plays quickly
On the play above, you’ll see Hurst powering his way through and sacking the quarterback. It’s a common theme for him to power his way through a gap and make his presence felt. He’s very disruptive and consistently makes running backs change direction out of the backfield.
- Lacks prototypical size (6’2″ – 290 lbs.)
- Relies too much on powering through a player, doesn’t trust hands when doing so
- Needs to come in under control once in the backfield
- Stalemates offensive linemen – needs to continue to move his feet when in this position
On the play above, you’ll see Hurst get washed out of the play. He faces a combo block and turns his back, which doesn’t end well. He’s completely taken out of the play. Out of all of his reps that I’ve seen, this was one of his worst.
By the Numbers
Games Watched: Five (Air Force, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Ohio State, Michigan State)
Weight: 290 lbs
2017 Stats: 59 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks
This defensive tackle class is extremely deep. There are players from all over the country that will find starting spots on NFL rosters. However, none of them is more important than Maurice Hurst. He holds the cards for all the defensive tackles. Not only should he be the first defensive tackle taken in this class, he should also be a top-10 selection. If he’s selected in the later part of the first round, like some project, then some players could be in for a longer night than they’d like.
Every defensive scheme will covet a player like Maurice Hurst. He can fit anywhere on a 3-4 front, and you could even have him as part of a 2-man down front (2-4-5). In all likelihood, the most realistic position for him is in a 4-3 defensive front playing as a 3-technique. Put him there and let his motor go. Will he generate double digit sack totals? No, but he’ll generate more than enough quarterback pressures and will wreak havoc on every running back bursting toward the line of scrimmage.
It would take some crazy off-the-field incident for Hurst to fall out of the first round. After my evaluation on him, I feel confident that he goes in the first round. The only question now is when and where?