When drafting in the top five of an NFL draft, teams hope to get the caliber of a player that is defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. Yet, the Oakland Raiders were able to grab him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL draft.
Going in to the draft, Pro Football Focus rated Hurst as the third-best player available only behind Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield. Just crazy to think Oakland landed the third best prospect at the 140th pick.
That is serious value. Value so high that I did just think of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Obviously that is unjust since Brady is arguably the GOAT, but I did think about it for a second.
And yes, that is just all pre-draft hype, but Hurst has lived up to the expectations this season.
While Hurst’s stats don’t jump out at you, with just two sacks and one forced fumble, he has been a menace constantly forcing pressure up the middle, batting balls at the line of scrimmage, and helping in the run game.
For perspective, he is currently the 14th highest rated interior defender in the entire league according to PFF. Grady Jarret and Ndamukong Suh are the two players directly above him. Not bad company at all.
Hurst also has the fourth-highest grade among any rookie defender behind Derwin James, Leighton Vander Esch, and Da’Shawn Hand. Esch and James were both first-round selections while Hand was a steal in the fourth round.
Not only has Hurst’s great play been fun to watch, it could easily impact the Raiders’ future in next year’s draft. With PJ Hall and Hurst recently taken, Oakland might have the ability to pass on possible number one pick Ed Oliver.
Oliver, defensive tackle from Houston, is touted as one of the two best defensive players in all of college football. The other being Nick Bosa previously of Ohio State. But with the middle seemingly solidified with Hurst, the Raiders might not need Oliver.
The combination of Hurst, who will create space for the outside rushers, and an elite pass rusher, maybe Nick Bosa, could be a dangerous combination for years to come.
But then again, Suh and Aaron Donald have worked out quite nicely for the Los Angeles Rams, however, getting an edge rusher should be far more important than adding to the inside.
Regardless of what happens in the future, Oakland should be ecstatic that it found a top-five talent in the fifth round of the draft. That just doesn’t happen and every other team should feel stupid for passing up on Hurst.
Hurst’s heart condition was a major risk and makes sense for pushing him out of the first round, but to the fifth round? That is absurd. Hurst is already one of the best defensive tackles in the league and will only continue to get better as time progresses.