Flying under the radar, Maurice Hurst Jr. has quietly has become one of the NFL’s scariest interior defensive linemen with the Las Vegas Raiders.
The former Michigan Wolverine has established himself as one of the Raiders’ key contributors on defense, albeit in a quiet fashion. Hurst has received little to no coverage on a national stage but that’s starting to change. Recently, Pro Football Focus showed Hurst some love by featuring him in their ranking of the NFL’s top 25 defensive linemen.
Since arriving with the Raiders in 2018, Hurst has started 14 of 29 games at defensive tackle, taking a total of 994 defensive snaps in that range. Considering Hurst was a fifth-round selection, he’s come along as well as one could hope. In fact, PFF shared an eye-popping tidbit via their Twitter account recently, Hurst had 38 total pressures last year on 355 of those snaps. In the process, Hurst earned himself a 77.8 grade in that department.
— PFF Las Vegas Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) August 18, 2020
Let’s not forget Hurst has outperformed many of the Raiders draft picks from that class, including fellow defensive tackle, P.J. Hall, who’s no longer on the team.
The Raiders Have Themselves A Force Inside The Trenches
Sam Monson of PFF, who put the rankings had Hurst at number 24 as of 2019. Despite his size, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 291 pounds, Monson believes Hurst has performed impressively as a pass-rusher.
“One of the smallest interior linemen in the league, Maurice Hurst has, nevertheless, been an impressive pass-rusher through two seasons. He demonstrated significant growth from Years 1 to 2. He had 38 total pressures in 2019 on 355 pass-rushing snaps, earning him a 77.8 PFF grade in that facet.”
As for 2020, the Raiders still have Johnathan Hankins who might start next to the newcomer, Maliek Collins. This certainly could cut into Hurst’s snaps, however, the addition of Rod Marinelli can help Hurst finally maximize his talent. Even if Hurst doesn’t become “elite” as Monson points out, the Raiders will need for Hurst to continue his level of play in 2020.
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*Top Photo: Cary Edmonson/USA TODAY Sports