Detroit Lions Draft Player Profile: Defensive End Maurice Hurst

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Steven Montez
ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Steven Montez /

Over these next couple months, we’ll be previewing a few guys that could be the next star of the Detroit Lions. This week, we’ll look at Maurice Hurst.

In the past few years, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata has been a key centerpiece to the front seven of the Detroit Lions. As great as the future Hall-of-Famer, the 34-year-old is fresh off of biceps surgery and is now a free agent, so it may be time for this Lions defense to move on from him.

One of the many needs of this Detroit Lions team is in the defensive line, so it might be smart for Bob Quinn to use his first round pick on a fast defensive linemen who can wreak havoc in an opponent’s backfield. That’s where Maurice Hurst comes in.

Hurst is an explosive defensive linemen who has spent his past four years at the University of Michigan. At 6’2″ and 285 pounds with a unique speed advantage, Hurst has excelled in the three tech for the Wolverine, destroying running backs in the Big Ten the past four years.

Of those aforementioned four years, Hurst seemingly saved his best for last, as he really balled out his senior year.

He finished the year with 59 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks, including averaging at least one tackle for loss in the regular season. After posting these impressive statistics, Hurst was a consensus selection for the 2017 College Football All-American Team.

Among the early mock drafts all around the internet, the Michigan alum is a very popular pick for the Motor City. He was mocked for the Lions by’s Bucky Brooks, CBS Sport’s R.J. White, and MLive’s Nate Atkins.

It makes sense why all these experts are picking Hurst in this spot, as the defensive line was not exactly a strong unit for the Lions this past season. Detroit recorded 35 sacks this season, which is barely good enough for 20th in the league. And 12 of those sacks came from defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who is a free agent and is likely to not be a Detroit Lion next season.

The bottom line is that this defensive line could use some revamping. The hiring of Matt Patricia brings along all of his creative defenses, requiring versatile linemen who can stop the run and play any position in his hybrid 3-man and 4-man fronts. Maurice Hurst can be that linemen.

What separates Hurst from his fellow defensive line prospects is his speed. He was consistently the first person moving on the line this past season, as these highlights prove. That quick first step allows Hurst to get past the offensive line. blowing up many runs all over the BIG Ten.

The main criticism for Hurst in his scouting reports seems to be that he is simply too small to play the 3-technique in the NFL. But Hurst’s incredible speeds and quick thinking allows him to make up for that size advantage.

There are many small 3-tech defensive tackles in the NFL who excel because of their speed. Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams, Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Jurell Casey of the Tennessee Titans are just a few examples of small and fast defensive tackles doing well in the NFL. Who’s the say that Maurice Hurst can’t do the same?

Next: 5 Senior Bowl standouts the Detroit Lions could target

It’s still very early to project players for the Lions to pick, as the NFL combine is still almost 2 months away. But in terms of the early projections I’ve seen so far, Maurice Hurst is my early favorite pick for the Detroit Lions, as I hope to see him in that Honolulu Blue come this fall.