Kung Fu Kenny

The case for the 6ft DT - Maurice Hurst

12 posts in this topic

This is my favorite DT in this draft. Hurst and Jarrett would make a formidable interior.

Quote

Never before in the history of the NFL have pass-rushing defensive tackles been of greater value than in the past few years with the distinct shift away from base defense towards more sub-package defense. Michigan DI Maurice Hurst has been an incredible, disruptive interior defensive lineman this year in large part to his quickness and athleticism.

When Gerald McCoy was coming out of Oklahoma, the book on him was somewhat similar to Hurst’s. McCoy didn’t weigh over 300 pounds like his draft classmate Ndamukong Suh, but he consistently won with quickness and athleticism on the field. Hurst is close to 6-foot-2 and weighs 280 pounds, which is noticeably smaller than McCoy’s 6-foot-4, 295-pound frame coming into the NFL.

As a run defender

For far too long in the NFL, the reason not to draft defensive tackles that didn’t meet certain height and weight specifications was that their lack of size would translate to them getting pushed around in the run game. However, that is far less of a concern with fewer run plays being called on first and second downs than for most of NFL history. Additionally, Hurst wasn’t a serviceable run-defender; he was dominant. On run plays, the lighter and quicker defensive tackles such as Hurst can quickly shoot through gaps to cut off the front-side of run plays or to clean up plays from the back-side.

His run-stopping has been a top priority during his time in Michigan, and it certainly showed with his production.

“My first job has always been to stop the run,” Hurst said in an exclusive interview. “That’s what we’re taught at Michigan. Pass-rush has always been secondary.”

Positional versatility

Hurst have demonstrated the ability to contribute at a high-level at multiple positions along the defensive line. Hurst played more of his snaps at nose tackle than anywhere else despite lacking prototypical nose tackle size. In 2017, Hurst played 405 snaps at nose tackle, 377 at defensive tackle and even 34 at defensive end for the Wolverines. The fact that Hurst was able to play the bulk of his snaps at nose tackle and not only held his own, but dominate, should ease the concerns of teams about his lack of ideal NFL defensive tackle size.

As a pass-rusher

It’s often said that the low man wins in football and especially so at the line of scrimmage. For some smaller but productive defensive tackles, the lack of height can lead to a natural leverage advantage on pass plays, as it’s difficult for a blocker to reach across, attempting to grab and control their man’s chest if it is too low and moving too quickly for them to reach. Hurst excels at being the low man that wins.

Hurst consistently plays with a lower pad level than the man across the line of scrimmage trying to block him. His lack of height gives him a lower center of gravity and therefore tremendous balance to fight off blocks from all angles and keep his feet to make a play. He explodes off the snap like a sprinter out of their stance and is consistently one of the first players moving at the snap on either side of the ball. Hurst’s low center of gravity, initial burst off the line, lateral quickness and his low pad level makes him a difficult assignment for any blocker. The growing trend of success for ‘smaller’ defensive tackles in the NFL is something Hurst is aware of.

“We all want 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 guys,” Hurst said. “But in reality, the 6-foot-1, 6-foot-2 guys are the ones going to the Pro Bowls. That’s the way the game’s going.”

In 2016, Hurst played a limited role in a talented Wolverines defensive front and only rushed the passer on 173 snaps, but his pass-rushing productivity was ranked No. 1 among all defensive tackles. In 2017, in a full-time role, Hurst’s pass-rushing productivity was also ranked No. 1, this time among all NFL draft-eligible defensive tackles. He generated 5.5 sacks, 13 QB hits and 28 hurries on his 320 pass-rush snaps.

Summing it all up

All too often, teams are missing out on the quick, disruptive but ‘undersized’ defensive tackles that continue their disruptive ways in the NFL such as Grady Jarrett (6-foot-1), Geno Atkins (6-foot-1, 293-pounds), Jurrell Casey (6-foot-1) or Aaron Donald (6-foot-1, 285-pounds). Hurst’s ability to be an elite run-defender and pass-rusher from the defensive tackle position in addition to his quickness and athleticism inside is very reminiscent of McCoy’s game both at Oklahoma and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The comparison between the two — McCoy and Hurst — does, in fact, come with merit. Hurst himself sees it.

“I also watch a lot of Gerald McCoy,” Hurst said. “He’s a guy I really look up to and take as much stuff as I can from him on film. He’s ridiculously fast and quick, and he works really well with his hands.”

Hurst’s ability to be disruptive and productive against the run and as a pass-rusher means he should be able to stay on the field in nearly every down-and-distance situation and provide tremendous value for the team that drafts him.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is an old article but it validates the point above.

Quote

Now Daniels, a fourth-round pick out of Iowa in 2012, is the best player on Capers's Packers unit—and he's 6 feet and 291 pounds. “Historically, when you look at the 3–4 defense, yes, that body type doesn't fit,” says Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy. “But the fact of the matter is, it's a sub [or subpackage] league now, and he's perfect for that.”

Subpackage defenses are on the rise because with each passing year NFL offenses more closely mirror their college counterparts, spreading the defense horizontally by using multiple receivers detached from the line. That creates not only more space in the passing game but also more creases for the running game. Defenses combat this with extra DBs, speedier linebackers and smaller linemen, such as Daniels, who has thrived. In 2015 the Packers lined up in their base defense on just 18% of snaps. (The league average is 33%.) And that's not a one-year aberration. McCarthy can't recall the last time his team was over 20%.

“People talk about a defensive lineman being too short—but that's [less of an issue] today,” says Lions guard Larry Warford, who sees Daniels twice a season. “Shorter guys are hard to pass-block and run against; it's hard to get that leverage on them. Daniels is a game-changer.”

While Daniels represents the latest evolutionary step of the incredible shrinking defensive lineman, he's every bit as fierce as his predecessors. One play from Week 9 last season encapsulates all that he brings. Midway through the first quarter against the Panthers he lined up on the outside shoulder of left guard Amini Silatolu, facing an old-school, two-back alignment. On the snap Daniels backed up Silatolu a few steps by staying low and leveraging beneath Silatolu's pads. Then he used his brute strength, tossing the 6' 4", 320-pound Silatolu to the ground, and quickly flushed Cam Newton out of the pocket for an incomplete pass. “The difference between Mike and other short guys is that he's just absolutely strong,” says Warford. “He can throw you off balance easy and attack.”

“I've had quite a few plays where I've just dominated the guy across from me,” Daniels, 27, says matter-of-factly. “A lot of these defensive linemen, they're real whirling dervishes—they do all these fancy moves. I like to line up, punch a guy in his face, in his mouth, in his chest, then disengage, locate the ball, throw [my defender] and make a tackle. If you can do that consistently, you'll always have a job.”

Says Packers right guard T.J. Lang, who faces Daniels regularly in one-on-one pass-rush drills, “He plays low and with his hands really tight...It's hard to get control.” In late August, before he was cut by the Packers, left guard Josh Sitton added, “I would hate to have to block him over an entire game. He's relentless. He's a pain in the ***.” Sitton, who signed a three-year deal with the Bears on Monday, now has to face Daniels twice a year.

 

 

Edited by Kung Fu Kenny
Added content

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is what was said about Geno Atkins coming out. Sounds familiar. Hurst and Atkins are the same height and both weighs less than 300lbs. Atkins is the 3T for Cincinnati as Hurst would be here.

Quote

Undersized for an inside run stuffer, but has a quick first step. In the Senior Bowl game he beat Mike Iupati for a sack with a nifty move and quick hands. Must play in a one gap penetrating scheme where he can be disruptive. Was our top rated defensive lineman athletically after the Combine. Arms shorter than ideal, but makes up for it with quickness. Explosive suddenness in his body. Will fit in a four man front rotation. Quick on inside twist stunts. Gets penetration and is disruptive.

Atkins and Hurst sack comparisons the last 3 years in college.

Quote

Atkins: 2007 (7.5), 2008 (0), 2009 (3)

Hurst: 2015 (3), 2016 (5), 2017 (5.5)

 

Edited by Kung Fu Kenny

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hurst reminds me of Allen from Bama last year. Small 3tech with explosive traits. Do you have lay him at 5tech in Base?

Him and Grady would be mint on 3rd down. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was watching MI highlights someone posted in one of the mock drafts on this site and Hurst kept taking over the other players highlight real. I do like him. I expect both he and Taven will be on the board when we pick. Definitely a hard decision to make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now