NFL Draft Profile: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

It’s been a while since Michigan defensive tackle, Maurice Hurst was able to perform in front of scouts and coaches. He backed out of playing in the senior bowl in January. Then last month, he was unable to participate at the NFL Scouting Combine after being diagnosed with a heart condition.

But finally, the wait was over.  Yesterday, Adam Schefter reported that the former Wolverine received medical clearance to run a full workout at Michigan’s pro-day. On Friday, he didn’t disappoint. Hurst ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.97 seconds, which would have put him as one of the fastest defensive linemen at the combine. He also registered 29 reps on the bench press, a 31 inch vertical and a broad jump just under nine feet.

https://youtu.be/n1v5XgjM6eY

There is one word that sums up Hurst’s play-making ability. Disruptive.

Possessing a combination of strength and athleticism, Hurst utilizes his quickness and flexibility to force his way into the backfield. In 2017 the twenty-two-year-old recorded 59 total tackles with five sacks, two passes defended and one forced fumble. He created 49 QB pressures and 31 run stops, which was best among BIG 10 interior lineman. 

The Michigan alum’s greatest attribute is his speed. Receiving positive marks as both a pass rusher and run stopper, his first step off of the snap is a problem for offensive lineman that go against him. Hurst brings versatility to his game as he is capable of lining up at multiple positions along the defensive line. According to Pro Football Focus in 2017, Hurst played 405 snaps at nose tackle, 377 at defensive tackle and 34 at defensive end.

Recent trends in the NFL are currently working in favor of the former Wolverine. His size (6’1, 290lbs) is not of a prototypical defensive tackle, but Hurst is built in a similar mold of NFL pro-bowlers Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins. In the NFL speed kills. Which is precisely what defensive coordinators are looking for along the interior line.

Even with all of his attributes, Hurst still needs the right system to thrive in. At the next level, he is best suited as a three-technique lineman in a 4-3 defense. His scheme limitations will decrease the amount of teams interested in selecting him. While his numbers for 2017 were phenomenal, coaches will be curious about Hurst’s experience as he was a full-time starter for only one season. Additionally, he needs to be more disciplined and refine his pass rushing technique. The Michigan standout runs into initial contact with his head down and loose track of where the ball is. His lack of size also makes it difficult for him to shed double teams.

NFL draft analyst Mike Mayock currently ranks Hurst as the 4th best interior defensive lineman. Mock drafts project the former Wolverine as a mid to late first round prospect. The good news? The heart issue that triggered the irregular EKG should not have a huge impact on Hurst’s draft position. He is not the first college prospect who had some medical red flags prior to the draft. Just ask Bills defensive tackle, Star Lotulelei.

As a precaution, Hurst will most likely travel to Indianapolis next month for medical re-checks. But any questions that coaches may have had about the 22-year-old’s heath were put to rest this morning. In my opinion, Hurst has proven why he is one of the best interior defensive pass rushers in this draft class. And after today’s performance, the Michigan standout gave a reason for teams to take him as a first-round pick.

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