Hurst: The Heart of a Raider

The heart of a Raider is relentless. It’s a heart that fights through adversity and emerges victorious.

It’s a heart that bleeds passion. It bleeds the all-mighty Silver and Black.

No matter the doubt that ensues, no matter the skepticism that’s considered, the heart of a Raider prevails.

It’s the heart of a Raider that powers Maurice Hurst— the Oakland Raiders’ rookie defensive tackle. This 6-foot-2, 290 pound Michigan product was a fifth-round steal for the Raiders in the 2018 draft.

In Hurst’s final two seasons at Michigan, he racked up 24.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks. As one of the most disruptive defensive lineman in school history, Hurst earned All-American and First Team All-Big Ten honors. Although Hurst finished as a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik award, he won Michigan’s Bo Schembechler Award, an honor given annually to the team’s Most Valuable Player. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the third-best prospect in the entire 2018 NFL draft.

A few weeks prior to the draft, Maurice’s “Raider tough” heart experienced a significant obstacle. He was devastated by the diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat — causing him to be sidelined for the 2018 NFL combine.

The combine is one of the most important dates in the NFL scouting calendar and is an event that paints polarizing opinions for various analysts, coaches, and executives. When a player doesn’t display their abilities on the combine’s prestigious stage, it can only damage his image, unfortunately, putting Hurst at a great disadvantage.

Hurst’s first-round talent dropped due to skepticism, providing Jon Gruden and Reggie McKenzie with one of the 2018 draft’s best picks. With the 140th overall pick, the Raiders chose a defensive talent that can pillage an opposing offense like Warren Sapp once did.

Maurice and his heart of a Raider were cleared by specialists at Michigan and Harvard University Medical Center shortly after the combine. He’ll be closely monitored throughout his career, but the resilient Silver and Black pumping through his veins will keep him battling on and off the field.

If Hurst’s career isn’t hindered by the heart condition, the Raiders’ decision to draft him will be marked as sheer brilliance. He’ll improve the defense immensely in an area where talent is much needed. If the heart condition does prevent him from enjoying the career he deserves, the Raiders’ decision will be judged as a failure, but failures in Round 5 usually don’t set back your franchise immeasurably.

The explosive ability Hurst brings to the table can create the defensive production that the Raiders haven’t had in a long time. He rockets off the ball with bone-chilling strength, the perfect tools to engross multiple offensive linemen and create favorable matchups for Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

The heart of a Raider is hard to come by. It has a special grit, a special intensity.

Maurice Hurst has the heart of a Raider. He’ll prove it to the team, the fans, and the skeptics. It’s going to be a damn good thing that he’s playing on the Raiders’ side of the football.

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