It’s no secret that the Patriots need some help on their defensive line. They lost a lot of talent in their front seven over the course of the past season, and their inability to get pressure on quarterbacks last season was telling. They have to think about adding some talent in the early rounds, and Maurice Hurst could be a good option here.
As a senior, Hurst put up one of the best performances of his career in the Michigan defense. He generated a career high 59 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He’s a bit undersized at 6-foot-2, 280 pounds, but he will be able to find a home because of his on-field ability.
Pro Football Focus is actually very high on Hurst. They have him ranked as the No. 1 interior defender in the class, and third best prospect overall. They said the following of his ability in their 2018 draft guide.
"Hurst is the cream of this defensive tackle crop. There isn’t another interior player that can come close to his production as a pass-rusher in college and everything on tape suggests it will translate to the NFL. His size will give teams pause, but at no point in his college career was it ever a serious issue against the run – he still ranked 14th nationally in run-stop percentage. Hurst is a consistently dominant force whose only real question marks have little to do with his on-field performance."
This is a glowing endorsement of Hurst, and he could end up rising in the lead up to the draft. However, the minor heart defect discovered at the Combine could be enough to scare certain teams off in the early portion of the first round. But at this point, a tackle-needy team like the Patriots could afford to take a chance on him.
Hurst could end up being a poor man’s Aaron Donald. He’s undersized, but he has the ability to rush the passer from the interior, which will be key to his success. Bill Belichick will figure out how to properly use him, so grabbing him here would make a lot of sense.