NFL Draft: Is Hayden Hurst worth Ravens’ 1st round pick?

COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 9: Tight end Hayden Hurst #81 of the South Carolina Gamecocks gets past Marcell Frazier #16 of the Missouri Tigers as he goes in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, MO - SEPTEMBER 9: Tight end Hayden Hurst #81 of the South Carolina Gamecocks gets past Marcell Frazier #16 of the Missouri Tigers as he goes in for a touchdown in the fourth quarter at Memorial Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /
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One possibility for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL Draft is selecting Hayden Hurst. However is Hurst someone the Ravens should target with the 16th pick?

Drafting Hayden Hurst could be a tricky situation for the Baltimore Ravens, who draft 16th next Thursday. The Ravens would be reaching on Hurst if they took him with the 16th pick but he probably wouldn’t be available with their next pick. If Hurst is the apple of their eye, Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta would be in a tough spot if they couldn’t trade back.

I like Hurst’s game a lot. There is a lot to like there. I think he reminds me of when the New England Patriots had Aaron Hernandez. If you watch Hurst’s tape, you’ll see him line up all over the place. He can line up as a traditional tight end, he can be out wide and he can start in the backfield. Hurst has the ability to go up and get the football and he is exactly what you want from a tight end, a player that puts the defense in a bind. He has classic tight end size and while he’s not a burner he can make plays down the field.

Hayden Hurst has put up back to back seasons with solid production with the Gamecocks. In 2016 he had 48 grabs, 616 yards and a touchdown. In 2017 he had 44 receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns. You would like to see more production in the red zone, but the absence of it may be a production of the offense he played in.

On Twitter, Ryan Mink (Baltimoreravens.com) brought up Daniel Jeremiah’s (NFL Network) latest mock draft. This kind of sums up my whole take. Is it perfect? No. However it could work out.

A reach I could grapple with:

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I have a high second round grade on Hurst. I wouldn’t be comfortable taking Hurst at 16. The Ravens might be inclined to do it however. I don’t know how their board is stacked but I know draft grades are subjective and the Ravens valuing Hurst that high wouldn’t be out of the question. If the Ravens had more draft capitol they could wait and see if they needed to trade up in round two.

I wrote the other day that the tight end position was the Ravens biggest need. It is a very good tight end crop. Hurst is my third ranked tight end. There is no way around the fact that Hurst would be a reach. Dallas Goedert is unbelievably good and Mike Gesecki is a better athlete. If the Ravens pick Hurst it may be because he is the best fit for them. When you look at the Ravens two most successful Flacco era tight ends (Todd Heap and Dennis Pitta) Hurst lines up most with them.

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This is the problem with the draft. We can probably agree that Hurst could come in and be an instant play-maker but because it goes against most big boards (including mine) fans would lose their collective mind. In the end it would be a reach at 16, but one that I would live with if he produced as a rookie. If the Ravens can get to say pick 25 or so, they have my permission to make the pick without criticism.