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Vikings draft prospect microscope: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst

By Matthew Coller

As we lead up to the NFL Draft here at 1500ESPN, we will take a closer look at the prospects who could end up as Minnesota Vikings. For this edition, we focus on Michigan DT Maurice Hurst.

Why the Vikings could draft Maurice Hurst:

Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer doesn’t mind having an undersized three-technique defensive tackle if that player can get after the passer. At 280 pounds, Hurst is one of the smaller players at his position, but his production at Michigan was terrific. If the Vikings plan on having a rotation on the defensive line, Hurst can line up on the inside or outside, giving Zimmer the versatile weapon on the D-line that was missing. And if Sheldon Richardson doesn’t sign a long-term deal, Hurst could take over the starting position in 2019.

What experts are saying:

NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah:

“Hurst is an undersized defensive tackle with exceptional quickness and awareness. Against the pass, he has elite get-off. He explodes off the snap and has a collection of effective hand moves to generate pressure. His bread-and-butter move is a quick swipe before wrapping around the blocker and exploding toward the quarterback. Against the run, he relies on his quickness to beat cut-off blocks and disrupt. Occasionally, he’ll get stuck on blocks and is moved out of the hole. His effort is excellent. Hurst is an ideal 3-technique and could emerge as one of the best interior pass rushers in the league.”

Pro Football Focus:

“Hurst is the cream of this defensive tackle crop. There isn’t another interior player that can come close to his production as a pass-rusher in college and everything on tape suggests it will translate to the NFL. His size will give teams pause, but at no point in his college career was it ever a serious issue against the run – he still ranked 14th nationally in run-stop percentage. Hurst is a consistently dominant force whose only real question marks have little to do with his on-field performance.”

ESPN’s Todd McShay:

“Hurst is a quick and powerful one-gap penetrator who is highly disruptive against the run. He has a powerful upper body and disengages quickly, but I had him rated a little too high previously.”

What the numbers say:

Hurst’s numbers are nothing short of fantastic. In 321 pass rush snaps, he picked up eight sacks, 15 QB hits and 26 hurries to go along with 38 run stops on 298 snaps against the rush. He graded excellently against both the run and the pass.

Graphic via Pro Football Focus:

As you can see below, Hurst is not very big for the position. However, it’s not clear that things like height/weight/wingspan have much correlation to success at three-tech. The league’s best player at the position Aaron Donald was 6-foot-1, 285-pounds at the Combine and Sheldon Richardson was 6-foot-2, 294-pounds.

Bottom line:

While Hurst had a heart issue that caused him to leave the Combine, he participated in the Michigan pro day and has been cleared to play. The combination of his size and the medical problem could cause teams in the middle of the first round to hesitate. If he’s available when the Vikings pick, he would not only fit Zimmer’s defense long term, but give them another weapon in the arms race for the league’s best defensive line.

Watch Maurice Hurst:

The post Vikings draft prospect microscope: Michigan DT Maurice Hurst appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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