Former Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman Maurice Hurst Jr. signed with the San Francisco 49ers this week. Before that, the Silver and Black signed Solomon Thomas, essentially taking Hurst’s place, but will he have a bigger impact?
Hurst was at one point seen as a potential foundational piece on the Raiders defensive line. Back in 2018, he accumulated four sacks, three tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, and six pressures. After a promising rookie year, it was easy to why the interior defender looked to be trending upward. Unfortunately, by last season, injuries began to take a toll combine with an apparent lack of faith by the coaching staff.
In 2018, Hurst played 472 snaps and by 2020, he only accounted for 277. While Covid-19 surely affected Hurst’s availability, he was also already facing criticism for not being a good run defender. In fact, he posted a 58.2 Pro Football Focus grade in that department coming into this year. Regardless, the Raiders’ brass obviously felt they had seen enough from Hurst, so they moved on.
Did the Raiders essentially replace Hurst with Thomas?
Prior to Hurst signing with the 49ers, the Silver and Black had picked up Thomas in free agency. After making a splash signing with Yannick Ngakoue, the Raiders decided that more reinforcements were needed along the defensive line. Back in 2017, Thomas was the third overall pick but never lived to the billing. In Las Vegas, he’ll surely get a chance for redemption under Gus Bradley and Rod Marinelli. His most productive year was arguably his rookie campaign. He posted three sacks, 10 tackles for a loss, and recovered a fumble.
Both of their production shows untapped potential, though in order for them to tap into it, they’ll need to stay healthy. This is especially true for Thomas after only appearing in two games in 2020. The hope is that he can be the right fit in Bradley’s system as a rotational end, he won’t have to carry the expectations of being the third pick in the draft. In the long run, the Raiders could end up getting the better end of this swap, unless of course, Hurst ends up flourishing in San Francisco.
What are your thoughts, Raider Nation? Will Thomas end up having a bigger impact with Las Vegas or will Hurst’s departure end up haunting the Raiders?
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