Has issues defending downhill runs straight at him
Could have issues getting off blocks in the NFL
Struggles with powerful offensive linemen
Struggles with length
Doesn't get a push via power at the point of attack
Could be a liability in short-yardage situations
Limited to being a three-technique
Summary: Over the past three seasons, Hurst has been a steady interior pass rusher for Michigan. Finding defensive tackles who are capable of putting consistent heat on the quarterback is a tough task for NFL teams, so Hurst should have plenty of organization hoping to draft him in the 2018 NFL Draft. Because of his ability to get after the quarterback, Hurst should be an early-round pick and could easily go in the second round.
As a sophomore, Hurst made an impact for the Wolverines with 35 tackles with 6.5 tackles for a loss and three sacks. He improved as a junior with 34 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss and one forced fumble. As a senior, Hurst has played well for Michigan, continuing to put heat on the signal-caller. Entering his bowl game, Hurst has 56 tackles with 12.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble, one pass broken up and five sacks.
Clearly, Hurst is at his best when he is using his speed to fire his gap and cause disruption in the backfield. He is very fast at the point of attack with an excellent get-off that catches offensive linemen by surprise. He can fire into the backfield and has a burst to close on the quarterback. With active hands and a variety of moves, Hurst is a dangerous interior pass-rusher who can get sacks on his own and create them for his teammates. In the NFL, Hurst should be an asset as a weapon in the middle.
Hurst is the most effective in the ground game when he uses speed to fire into the backfield and cause havoc there. Otherwise, his run defense could be problematic in the NFL as he struggles with powerful offensive linemen and linemen with length. He has a hard time getting off their blocks in runs that come downhill straight at him. Hurst's lack of size shows up against downhill rushing attacks. Against those kinds of teams and in those situations, his run defense was better when he lined up at defensive end. However, he lacks length to play end in the NFL.
For the NFL, Hurst would be best as a three-technique disruptor in a 4-3 defense. He doesn't have the size to play nose tackle. Hurst could be a situational and rotational player in a 3-4 defense for a team that could use an interior pass-rusher, but Hurst's body type is not a good fit for the 3-4. To start out his NFL career, Hurst could be a rotational player and a situational pass-rusher. Over time, he could improve to being a three-down starter, but his run defense will need work before he gets there.
Player Comparison: Grady Jarrett. Hurst reminds me of Grady Jarrett coming out of Clemson. Both are interior pass-rushers who have size limitations for the NFL. On the other hand, they are fast at the point of attack with an ability to get after the quarterback. Because of size, Jarrett slipped to the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft even though some had hyped him as an early-rounder. Hurst has gotten some media hype as well. He could go on the second day of the 2018 NFL Draft, and him sliding because of the size concerns is possible. Still, Jarrett is a good interior pass-rusher in the NFL, and I think Hurst could be similar for his pro team.
NFL Matches: Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Washington, Arizona, Oakland, Los Angeles Chargers, Detroit, Buffalo, Atlanta and New England
There are a lot of teams that could target Hurst in the early rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft. With his ability to contribute as an interior pass-rusher, Hurst should have a number of teams hoping to draft him. Perhaps the highest he could hope to go would be to the Browns' second-round pick to lead off Day 2. They could consider an interior pass-rusher to go between Myles Garrett and Danny Shelton.
Tampa Bay needs to improve its line play on both sides of the ball. Hurst could form a tough tandem next to Gerald McCoy. The Redskins need more talent in their front seven, and Hurst could give them an interior rusher to go with Jonathan Allen. Arizona has missed Calais Campbell this season, and Hurst could get consideration for the Cardinals.
Oakland badly needs more interior defensive line talent. Hurst could be a fit for the Raiders to give them an inside pass rush. Staying in the AFC West, Hurst would make sense for the Chargers as they could use an upgrade over the declining Corey Luiget. Hurst would give them a speed-rushing three-technique to play on the inside of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. That could form a very dangerous front in obvious passing situations.
The Lions need an interior pass-rusher to go with A'Shawn Robinson. Hurst would be a great fit in Detroit. Buffalo could use an interior defender to replace Marcel Dareus, and Hurst would fit the Bills' defensive scheme well. Atlanta also could use more interior defensive line talent, and Hurst could be a nice value for the Falcons on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
New England could use more young talent in its defensive front seven. Hurst could give the Patriots an interior rusher and have two second-round picks to give him consideration. Staying in the AFC East, Hurst could be in play for the Jets, as they also have two second-round picks. The Jets traded away Sheldon Richardson, and Muhammad Wilkerson's future with the team is uncertain. If they move on from Wilkerson, Hurst could be a nice second-rounder to be paired with Leonard Williams.