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If Maurice Hurst can bring maximum hustle to the NFL, he’ll be an absolute steal for the Raiders

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Retired NFL lineman Stephen White breaks down a talented, but challenging, prospect.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Update: Maurice Hurst went to the Raiders in the fifth round, due to some medical concerns.

Maurice Hurst’s talent is undeniable. This guy made some incredible plays in the four games I watched.

More than any one play, however, the thing that stood out was how quickly he got off the ball on damn near every play.

I kept having to run a play back because Hurst got out of his stance so fast, I would miss it.

That kind of get-off is rare, and applied correctly, it’s a devastating weapon that can embarrass and humiliate offensive linemen all game long. For instance, on counter plays, offenses will usually have their centers block back on the 3-technique defender, to the side of the guard who’s pulling. It usually isn’t even that hard of a block, because most defensive tackles are trying to read the guard, and by the time they see the center coming, it’s too late.

Not so for Hurst.

Trying to cut him off on the back side? You better give your tackle some help!

That’s all get-off right there.

As much as Hurst’s phenomenal burst helped against the run, it was a damn cheat code at times as a pass rusher. He could he just zoom right past some guards.

Hurst was also adept at converting speed into power and running slap over a guard.

But don’t get it twisted. Hurst didn’t have to rely solely on his speed for one-on-one wins. He had a bunch of other pass rush moves, too.

And he didn’t have to be in a 3-technique to win, either.

Hurst even broke out a nice-ass spin move one time.

Oh, and if you were wondering, he also played with plenty of power most of the time, bowling right through blockers to make plays.

If you just took Hurst’s highlights from the four games I watched, you might well see him as a top-10 pick in this draft.

Some of the plays were just that good!

But ... yeah, there’s a but.

Well, actually, rather than explaining the “but,” I will show it to you visually.

Here is a play in which the offense ran a draw and Hurst fell for the pass fake at first, so with his excellent acceleration, he flew up the field. Once Hurst realized that he had been duped, he stuck his foot in the ground to chase after the running back and hauled ass in a futile attempt to try to catch up.

Here is a very similar draw play. Do you notice any difference in the way Hurst played things?

If you were really paying attention, you might’ve noticed it was literally the very next play.

So what, exactly, is up with the difference in effort on both plays?

The thing is, if you never saw Hurst when he’s busting his ass, you might not think of that second play a as a loaf. But then when you see effort like this ...

... efforts like this start to look mad suspect.

I wouldn’t say Hurst plays lazy, per se, but his motor definitely runs hot and cold from play to play. When he turns it up, man, watch out!

But there were a few too many plays when the guy’s effort was just “meh” to me.

I’d take a Hurst who hustled every play in the top half of the first round.

I’m not sure about this off-and-on Hurst, however.

On top of the frustrating effort issue, Hurst missed quite a few plays I thought he should’ve made.

Don’t get me wrong. Three sacks in four games for a defensive tackle is nothing to sneeze at.

But when I look at some of the other opportunities he had to get the quarterback on the ground, and didn’t, that was a tad bit disappointing for me.

It’s cool that his Michigan teammates cleaned up some of his misses, but that won’t always be the case. I give him credit for forcing the quarterback off the spot, but go ahead and seal the deal, bruh!

So I’m a little torn about Hurst, to be quite honest. On the one hand, his best is ridiculous. On the other hand, guys with effort issues always give me the willies. And who’s to say that the lack of full-time hustle isn’t part of the reason why he didn’t make more of those plays he was in position to make?

With his quickness and power, Hurst ought to be a game wrecker in the league. And hey, he might well go early in the first round.

But for me, Hurst’s effort issues, along with the fact that at he checked into the combine at “only” 6’2 and 282 pounds — which might limit his scheme versatility — mean I’d probably wait until near the end of the first round at the earliest to take him. Nothing personal, I just like dudes who hustle all the time. And who knows? Maybe Hurst will get to the NFL and get paired with a great line coach who pulls his best effort out of him consistently.

I really hope one does, because that Hurst, I’d pay good money to see play on Sundays.

Since I’m not sure how it’s gonna go IRL, I’d have Hurst behind the two other interior defensive linemen I have broken down so far, Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne, in that order.


Since I don’t have access to all-22 for college football games, I use the next best thing for my draft profiles and go to draftbreakdown.com, where they post the TV copy of a bunch of top prospects’ games already cut up and ready to go. For the purposes of this breakdown I watched Maurice Hurst play against Minnesota, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. Those represented the ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th games on Michigan’ schedule last season, respectively.