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2018 Ravens 1st Round Draft Pick (#25) - Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

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33 minutes ago, drd23 said:

That is very optimistic.  It would be the 2nd or 3rd best rookie TE season of the last 20 years

Perhaps. But this is also a case where you have:

1. Veteran QB that is a one read then outlet pass to TE/RB type QB

2. We operate a TE heavy offense.

3. Hurst is a “seasoned” rookie and already understands professional sports dynamics. Thus Harbaugh will likely trust him more than other rookies.

4. Defenses will likely be more apt to give the rookie more room to operate than veteran playmakers.

5. Hurst has elite hands and thus will nab anything thrown into his carrier code.

Edited by diamondbull424

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I thought this was a terrible pick, but I loved the rest of your draft. I think Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown were top 32 talents. They were on my board.

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49 minutes ago, BleedTheClock said:

I thought this was a terrible pick, but I loved the rest of your draft. I think Mark Andrews and Orlando Brown were top 32 talents. They were on my board.

Just out of curiosity, what do you see as the biggest negatives about the pick?  Interested to hear the thoughts of someone a bit removed from the situation (i.e. not a Ravens fan).

FWIW, I liked the player, but I was disappointed by the pick (albeit less so at #25 vs. #16).  That said, I think sometimes we (fans of teams) spend so much time doing mocks and discussing the picks in advance that we get upset when reality happens.

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24 minutes ago, sp6488 said:

Just out of curiosity, what do you see as the biggest negatives about the pick?  Interested to hear the thoughts of someone a bit removed from the situation (i.e. not a Ravens fan).

FWIW, I liked the player, but I was disappointed by the pick (albeit less so at #25 vs. #16).  That said, I think sometimes we (fans of teams) spend so much time doing mocks and discussing the picks in advance that we get upset when reality happens.

I think almost everybody agree on, who Hurst is as a player. The difference seems to be how much/low value people put in the fact, that he is an old rookie.

If Hurst produce 500 yards in his rookie season and build on it the year after, I doubt we will have a problem with it. If he has to develop for 2-3 years, then it will already be a bad pick. Plus, there will be very little reasoning to give him a second contract - if he turns out to be very good, we will have to pay a man who is in his mid thirties when he other players hit their prime.

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20 hours ago, sp6488 said:

Just out of curiosity, what do you see as the biggest negatives about the pick?  Interested to hear the thoughts of someone a bit removed from the situation (i.e. not a Ravens fan).

FWIW, I liked the player, but I was disappointed by the pick (albeit less so at #25 vs. #16).  That said, I think sometimes we (fans of teams) spend so much time doing mocks and discussing the picks in advance that we get upset when reality happens.

I hate that he's older. I hate that he doesn't have any physical trait that is going to allow him to be a mismatch. He's not overly big, fast, strong, or quick. He has great hands, but his catch radius isn't great or anything either. I think while he's not a horrible blocker, he's not really an in-line guy either. He does have very good RAC ability/vision in the open field, but I just don't see him getting open vs. man coverage. He's' got such a low ceiling even before you factor in his age.

For a 1st round TE, I'd expect to be getting some type of physical marvel, not Hayden Hurst. I had him as a 4th round prospect, which I'm aware was very low compared to other boards, but I did not like him at all.

And I'm not really a Ravens "hater" or anything...I think Lamar Jackson was a great selection that late (he's got like a 20% chance to hit, but it's worth a homerun swing) and I thought Orlando Brown was arguably the best value pick of the entire draft. But the Hurst selection was bad in my opinion. I didn't understand that pick at all. Might have been my least favorite pick in the 1st round aside from the Steelers picking Terrell Edmunds.

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I've kinda locked in on Hayden Hurst as a prospect.

To start with, he's 24. We all know and hate it. Let's put it in perspective. Dennis Pitta was an older 24 when we drafted him at the same position. Brandon Williams was another 24 year old draftee, a 5th year senior from a DII school. Both grew technically and physically during their time with us and became valuable high end contributors. Our starting Tight End last year was a 36 year old coming off a torn Achilles. While it's unfortunate that his athletic potential may be more capped than a younger prospect, it's certainly no death sentence as a player. It's just an unfortunate reality for a 1st round pick. A fact which is becoming a bit lost among the disagreement with the pick itself.

 

What Hayden Hurst will do for us-

1. Catch Everything:  Hayden Hurst's hands are incredible. Natural, effortless, confident, reliable. From Day 1 he will have some of the best hands in the NFL. Everyone knows the whole 1 drop stat, but that line has been dropped so much it kind of understates the fact at this point. Concentration, hand strength, tracking. Any positive traits you can name, his hands have them.

Hurst can be leaned on as a big catch specialist and conversion ace the same way Boldin was. Many of us were in favor of adding Jarvis Landry to the team as he would return an element to the offense that left with Q and prime Pitta. Hayden will also bring that element, in a 6'4 frame. That kind of presence has been so absent from our offense, many have forgotten the true impact it can carry. 

2. Get Open: What makes Hayden so valuable is the pairing of his hands with his ability to actually get open and make use of them. In just two years at the position, Hurst has developed into a refined pass catcher in College Football's toughest conference. He's a smart, reliable, and active target in the short, intermediate, and deep passing game. Hurst makes himself available and viable on extended and broken plays. He displays adept skill when uncovering and sitting against man defenders and zone coverage.  

Hayden will own the middle of the field. One thing that's really jumped out at me with Hurst after some extended evaluation is how special he is attacking the seam and moving downfield. I still believe he has about the same operating speed as Benjamin Watson within a 5-8 yard area, which isn't a negative as Watson even at his advanced age is a great athlete. He just doesn't have that short area burst/twitch like a Jordan Reed, Evan Engram etc. When moving vertically though, is where we'll really see an upgrade over Watson. Hurst is similar to Gronkowski in how he creates easy downfield separation with smooth and explosive vertical movement. Linebackers in the SEC couldn't hang with him and in the NFL it will be no different. Hayden is a classic example of a college player whose stats don't reflect his true contributions. He had a ton of plays where his QB just didn't look his way or couldn't get it to him. One of the many times he was open for an easy TD and the QB didn't get it to him. That's the kind of stuff it's hard for us couch analysts to notice on our cuts ups lol, but easy for Ozzie and Decosta to spot on their All-22 film of college players. 

Hurst's loose hips are another trait he shares with Gronkowski, where even when moving his big frame at a high clip he can ease in and out of cuts smoothly. Maintaining his speed and setting himself up to explode once he catches the ball in stride. The Georgia game is great one to watch for Hayden. It shows everything.  It's extremely rare to find such fluid route running in a player Hurst's size. 

3. Make Plays: Hurst isn't a universal YAC guy, he isn't going to get much after outside initiated contact but he will chew up yards after the catch. Hayden transitions from receiver to runner as quick as you'll find because catching the ball is such an automatic and thoughtless endeavor for him. It's the speed of his moves after the catch that makes him dangerous, not necessarily the sheer athletic force behind them. Linebackers and DBs anticipate that half second to second catch and gather by Hayden and it just doesn't come. Leaving them vulnerable to Hurst's YAC skill set which primarily includes an active stiff arm and productive slip juke. This aspect of his game is slept on. His legs aren't going to Gronk through tackles from linebackers, and he isn't going to run people over like Fournette, but we will see plenty of forced missed tackles from him. 

Two slips and a truck. The defender thinks he has an easy backfield tackle but Hurst's quicker than expected transition off a bad throw is too much for him.

Defender thinks he has an easy tackle after Hayden's adjustment to the bad ball, but again Hurst's lightning receiver to runner transition is unexpected and all the defender can do is try and brake down before receiving a nasty stiff arm.

Desperation throw but an easy one handed catch. Defenders don't even think he'll catch it, let alone immediately turn up field for a couple more yards.

^^^Obviously his YAC game is built upon his ability to separate with speed after snagging throws in stride and there's plenty of examples of him doing that or making an insane catch with defenders all round him. I wanted to highlight those examples though, because it's those little sequences that show a true underrated strength of his which will lead to many big plays.

Hurst can be relied on for the routine play and catch, turn nothing into something, break a big play, and churn out clutch plays. That's a four phase weapon and the skeleton of a worthy 1st round pick.

 

What Hayden Hurst won't do for us-

1. Ever resemble a plus asset in the run game: There's an obvious lack of core and drive strength with Hurst and I don't see it going away. This could be an area where you can pinpoint a clear downside to his lack of his football experience, specifically football weight training. There's technical flaws as well, but it's usually his lack of strength and power that blow up his base and prevent him from sustaining and or getting movement(drive) with his blocks.

Hayden can be of use with seal blocks where he just needs to get to a man quickly and wall him off for a second, South Carolina often made use of him in that way. The mentality is there with Hurst which is very important, and technically I think he'll continue to clean things up but the attributes aren't there to ever be a plus asset. Which is a very disappointing factor considering we spent the 25th overall pick on him.

2. Be a threat in the air: Hurst gets open with his legs, he isn't going to sky up over people and he isn't going to contort his body to ****** a ball with a defender draped. He can jump, there's plenty of catches on his tape where he jumps up high to snag a throw above him. It's really not a strength though, here's an embarrassing video where he attempts a weird hurdle and showcases why he isn't meant to hop. His flexibility isn't an issue but his 50/50 victories are fueled through his natural hands not plus contortion. It's disappointing as we saw the special connection Flacco built with Pitta often making use of his own plus contortion. 

3. Grow athletically in any major way: Back to the obvious Hayden turns 25 next month, his athletic ceiling is likely 95% capped. Sure we will see him get a little faster and stronger, fill out, get some more of that old man strengfh. That's it though. We've seen the huge leaps prospects 20, 21, 22, and 23 years old can make with their athletic profiles, we won't see that with Hurst. What we see is what we'll get for the most part.

 

Overview-

Out in front, this pick can only be criticized when putting Hurst up against Derwin James or Tremaine Edmunds. Two athletic freaks that were entrenched in Top 10 grades, while also being 3 and 5 years younger than Hurst respectively. Selecting Hurst himself though, can't be criticized as TE was our biggest need position. We had zero respectable options and if we wanted to contend, things couldn't stay that way. We were bound to pick a TE in the first 3 rounds. I don't think anyone around here thought the 1st round was ideal for the the selection, but we also didn't know that our first selection in the draft would come at pick 25. A late round 1st on our biggest need really isn't the end of the world, especially considering what it is Hayden Hurst will bring to the team.

We added a very very strong player to the roster. I was never down on Hayden Hurst. I liked what I saw from him, just not for the 1st round. My deep dive on him as a player has changed that thought. Hurst is an odd evaluation, he resembles the twitch fiends like Hernandez, Engram, and Reed with his physical dimensions but that isn't who he is. Hayden combines special downfield separation like a Gronkowski, not only elite but rare hands, and a very strong understanding of how to attack different coverage types. Not only does it show up on his film, but I listened to a ton of interviews Hayden did and he articulates in a rare way for a rookie his approach to overcoming different defenses. Coming up with game plans in close coordination with his coaches and analyzing how effective they were after games. He has a great mind for the game and really wasted his time with baseball. 

Besides his other weaknesses I listed, I'm also slightly concerned about his durability. Hurst doesn't miss games but he also isn't a super hard player, kind of like Mark Andrews he's a bit soft at times. Aggressive certainly, but soft, he'll stay on the ground for a while off decent hits or leave the field for a bit with an ache. All that aside I think he'll be a super productive player for us. As I said before he's a tricky evaluation which can bring out some dumb opinions, but really digging in I understand the pick even more and the FO's heightened expectations for Hayden Hurst. 

Here's another scouting report I found in my scouring that aligns pretty well with what I saw- https://www.fantasypros.com/2018/04/scouting-profile-tight-end-hayden-hurst/

 

 

 

 

 

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^^^ Yup. That’s pretty much exactly how I feel about Hurst. My initial dislike was fueled more from opportunity cost rather than Hurst’ talent. I initially saw a 2nd/3rd round talent. Then didn’t want anything to do with a TE at 16, but after diving deeper, 25 for his skill set isn’t horrible. He brings a lot of plus factors to the equation. All of which you’ve pointed out quite thoroughly.

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It is somewhat more "excuseable" that a David Njoku might take 2 years to develop into a premiere tight end, then he can be at the top of his career in his final year of his rookie contract and the next 3-4 years of his second contract.

Hurst will have to hit the ground running, otherwise we will look at a tight end who end up producing from 27-29 of age and then question what to do with a contract.

Of course it is looking down the road, and Hurst with his versatility alongside Goddard was the best tight end to pick high in the draft. If we get a Hunter Henry, I am perfectly happy.

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