Summary: Hunt was a work in progress who blossomed into a difference-maker in his final season at SMU. The Karksi-Nuia, Estonia product was a track star before he started making plays on the football field.
Hunt began his collegiate career by making a name for himself by being a special teams star. He used his height and leaping ability to be a dangerous weapon as a kick blocker. Hunt blocked seven kicks as a freshman, three kicks as a sophomore and four kicks as a junior. He swatted away three kicks as a senior for a staggering total of 17 blocked kicks in his career. Hunt should be a major weapon in the NFL who could come up with clutch blocks on long field goals that have to come out with a lower trajectory.
Hunt took awhile to make an impact defensively. He recorded all three of his sacks for 2011 against Pittsburgh in the bowl game. Hunt also had 28 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss. He totaled 5.5 sacks across his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Hunt started 2012 out poorly with a bad game against Baylor. The senior played better after that including quality showings against Texas A&M, Houston, Southern Miss and TCU. He was a force with two sacks and two forced fumbles in SMU's bowl game. Hunt had 31 tackles, eight sacks, an interception, two passes batted and three blocked kicks in 2012.
Hunt's technique in run defense and executing pass-rushing moves has really improved. He looked better with each game. SMU had him executing assignments for a 3-4 end, 4-3 end and 4-3 tackle, so his pass-rushing numbers could have been better if he played 4-3 end exclusively. The Mustangs also had him play a lot of containment.
Hunt flashed at times at the Senior Bowl, but he still needs some development for the next level. Hunt's weigh-in illustrated that he is a dedicated patron of the weight room. Even though Hunt checked in at 277 pounds, he had a six-pack with the frame to add more weight and approach 300 pounds.
Hunt would fit best in the NFL as a 3-4 defensive end with his length and ability to lock down the edge. He has a powerful bull rush to ride linemen into the backfield. Hunt has some speed and explosiveness to chase down quarterbacks. He needs to work on his pad level and knee bend to avoid standing up too tall to let offensive linemen get under his pads. Hunt also should add a rip move to his arsenal. He could play in a 4-3 or 3-4 as a pro.
Hunt is a physical freak who is going to have multiple teams fall in love with him. As a result, he could be a late first-round or second-round pick. It is hard to see him falling out of the top 62.
Player Comparison: Justin Smith. If Hunt pans out and reaches his full potential, he could be a player with a game that resembles Smith. The 49ers' veteran Smith is extremely powerful on the edge. He stuffs runs and is a pass-rushing presence off the edge. When Hunt is playing well, he looks like Smith.
Hunt won't be selected as early as Smith. The Bengals took him with the fourth-overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. Hunt looks more likely to be a late first-round or second-round pick.
NFL Matches: San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York Giants, Houston, New Orleans
There are a few teams that could consider Hunt in the early round of the 2013 NFL Draft. If Hunt grades out as a pick at the end of the first round, the 49ers make a lot of sense. He would be a great understudy to Smith and San Francisco likes athletes with big upside.
The Steelers and the Giants could consider Hunt in the middle of the second round. Both teams could use youth at defensive end. He would be a good fit in in Pittsburgh's 3-4 defense. Hunt fits the Giants well because they love rare athletes who are flexible. New York could play Hunt as an end and tackle like the team has other ends in the past.
The Texans could use some youth for their defensive line, and Hunt would be a good fit in their defense on the other side from J.J. Watt. Hunt could be a future replacement for Antonio Smith.
If Hunt were fall to the third round, the Saints would make a lot of sense. They could use more linemen for their new 3-4 scheme, and Hunt could break into the lineup quickly for New Orleans.
Out of sheer boredom and the upcoming NBA draft has gotten me itching to make a new mock draft. Of course the NFL draft is a whole lot less predictable than the NBA draft, but also provides more success stories than the NBA draft. Again, I used schedules to determine each team's records and if you get upset with me just remember it's June and a whole lot can change by next April.