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2018 Prospect Primer: TE Hayden Hurst

Posted Feb 23, 2018

The baseball-player-turned-tight-end looks to be a well-rounded player with the potential to be a reliable option for whichever quarterback he ends up with.

The South Carolina product had an unusual path to the NFL Draft. When next season starts, he will be a 25-year-old rookie. Hurst’s first experience in professional sports was instead in baseball when he was drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 Major League Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played two years of rookie ball as a pitcher before ultimately deciding to switch back to football.

Hurst walked on at South Carolina in 2015 and played in 12 games as a receiver and tight end, starting only once. He saw limited action but made it count, fielding eight receptions for 106 yards. His 2016 season is where he broke out, starting all 13 games for the Gamecocks at tight end. He set school records at that position for receptions (48) and yards (616). He scored one touchdown and was the first sophomore in program history to be named captain.

In 2017, he nabbed First-Team All-SEC honors, catching 44 passes for 559 yards and two touchdowns.

NFL.com lists his combination of size and speed as his strength. He also is able to shield the ball from defenders through contact. He’s a tough player and will take on tacklers rather than skirting out of bounds for an extra few yards. As a blocker, he is able to adjust on the move and has the capability to improve as an in-line blocker, according to NFL.com.

His age seems to be the main weakness that many experts are concerned with. Because he will be 25 when next season begins, ‘he is who he’s going to be physically’ according to an NFC player personnel executive. Additionally, he seems to give defenders route clues at times and his out-breaking routes have been getting jumped for two seasons, according to NFL.com.

He is however extremely reliable in the hashmarks, recording just one drop compared to 100 catches in the course of his collegiate career. Experts call him well rounded with the potential to become a good combination tight end.

He’s drawn an NFL comparison to Dallas Clark and NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah has him going 29th overall to the Jaguars in his Mock Draft 1.0.