Position: Tight end
Weight: 250 pounds
School: South Carolina Gamecocks
Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.67 seconds (tied for third among tight ends)
Vertical jump: 31.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet (tied for fourth among tight ends)
Three-cone drill: 7.19 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds
60-yard shuttle: 12.15 seconds
Hayden Hurst 2018 NFL Draft Profile
Of all the 2018 prospects, Hayden Hurst took perhaps the most-unique path to this year’s draft. Hurst played football and baseball in high school but eventually dropped football as he gained national recognition as a pitcher. Florida State University offered Hurst a baseball scholarship, but he opted to enter the 2012 MLB draft instead. Hurst was considered a first-round talent, but he wasn’t taken until the 17th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates due to concerns that Hurst would put his career on hold to attend college.
In his first spring with the Pirates, Hurst looked like a steal until a biceps injury hampered him. He struggled to re-establish his throwing motion and began to lose confidence in himself. Hurst spent the next two years working with coaches, pitching specialists and even hypnosis in an attempt to regain his momentum. Eventually, his frustration boiled over, and he left the sport in pursuit of a football career at age 22.
In 2015, Hurst managed to lock up a walk-on spot at South Carolina as a wide receiver. As he added muscle throughout the offseason, Hurst moved to tight end and appeared in every game his freshman year, catching eight passes for 106 yards. Hurst became a starter in 2016 and caught 48 passes for 616 yards and a touchdown. He continued to make strides in his junior year as he recorded 44 catches, 559 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Hurst also picked up 30 yards and a score as a fullback in short-yardage situations. He earned unanimous All-SEC honors for his efforts.
- Excellent hands, dropped only one pass in college;
- Bursts upfield immediately after making the catch;
- Gets physical and boxes out defenders in jump ball situations;
- Fights for extra yardage and breaks a lot of tackles after the catch;
- Dependable run blocker, showed improvement in this area last season;
- Shows no anxiety when making catches in traffic;
- Subbed in at fullback in college and proved to be a capable power runner.
- Not a very tight route runner, needs to make harder, quicker cuts to better manipulate defenders;
- Will be 25 years old next season, it’s possible that he has peaked physically;
- Occasionally gives away his route path with head movements;
- Average arm length and hand size;
- Has trouble separating from faster defenders.
NFL comparison: Travis Kelce
Teams with need at position: Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, San Francisco 49ers.
Projection: First to second round
Hurst is one of the most complete tight end prospects in the draft. He was an incredibly-reliable wide receiver at South Carolina, dropping only one pass while making 100 catches. Hurst’s measurables are also impressive with a 4.67 40-time at the combine and a 6’4″ 250-pound frame. If Hurst can improve his route running and continue to grow as a run blocker, he should eventually develop into a top NFL tight end. The biggest concern for teams will be Hurst’s age. He will turn 25 in August, and this will cause some teams to pass on him with the notion that they won’t be able to develop him as effectively as a younger tight end.
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