Hurst was a backup guard and tackle for the Tigers as a redshirt freshman in 2009. He took over the starting job at right tackle the next year. Hurst's sophomore season was cut down by a leg injury that knocked him out of the final three regular-season contests, but he returned for LSU's bowl game.
Hurst showed a lot of improvement last year, his second season as the starting right tackle. The junior started all 14 games and was a First-Team All-SEC selection. The Tigers averaged 202 yards per game on the ground - 22nd overall in the nation. Hurst's run-blocking was a big reason why LSU was second in the conference in rushing. He had a quality season as a pass-protector.
2012 Season Outlook:
The Tigers will feature a run-heavy offense once again in 2012. They will be featuring a new quarterback and lost wide receiver Rueben Randle to the NFL. As a result, LSU will probably feature even more smash-mouth football with a power-ground attack. Hurst will definitely have a weekly opportunity to show NFL scouts once again that he is an effective run-blocker.
There should be multiple opportunities for Hurst to show that he has is ready as a pass-blocker. Hurts will see good pass-rushers when LSU takes on Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Alabama during the regular season. If the senior excels in those game, he will his stock a real boost. Hurst will be tested as teams will probably send more dangerous edge-rushers his direction rather than test left tackle Chris Faulk.
Hurst is an improving and powerful blocker who looks like a future starter in the NFL. Assuming he stays healthy, the tackle will be a very experienced three-year starter who will have gone against a number of first-round pass-rushers during his collegiate career.
The biggest strength for Hurst is his run-blocking. He is a road grader who has a propensity to knock defenders to the ground. LSU has had a lot of success running behind Hurst. His sheer power pushes linemen aside and opens up holes for his running backs. Hurst also can hit blocks on the second level of the defense. His run-blocking already looks NFL ready.
The clear negative to Hurst's game is that he needs to improve at defending against speed-rushers; they have given him problems at times. Both 2011 Alabama games saw Courtney Upshaw, among others, have success against Tigers' perimeter blockers. Hurst is still developing, so it wouldn't be surprising if his pass protection gets better.
The senior has to get quicker in his pass drops to be ready for the NFL. He needs to get deeper off the snap to take away the outside edge to pass rushers. Hurst looks like he has the length necessary to be a good edge-blocker. It wouldn't surprise me if some teams view him as a guard for the next level, but with the demand for tackles, the majority of teams will probably look to keep the Tiger at right tackle.
Hurst has earned a reputation as a dedicated hard worker during the offseason. He's earned the program's award for outstanding offseason workouts the past three years. It is no surprise that with that work ethic, Hurst is known at excelling in the weight room.
Even more so than during the games, Hurst gets a lot of good preparation for the NFL in practice. He goes up against two excellent edge-rushers, Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo, on a daily basis. They are two of the best pass-rushers in college football, and both are projected to be first-round picks.
Seeing those pass-rushers daily is better than going up against an elite player on an occasional Saturday. Thus, Hurst has better pro preparation than other tackles because of the talent he plays against in practice.
This offseason it seems that Hurst has shed about 10 pounds. That could help him to match up better against speed-rushers. Overall, he looks like a safe pick for the 2013 NFL Draft and a player who should be able to start quickly at right tackle at the next level.
2013 NFL Draft Expectations:
Hurst looks like a second-day pick right now. If the senior locks down his rushers as a pass-protector, this season his stock could rise into Thursday night. It is more likely that Hurst will go in the second or third round.
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