With the 25th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens selected TE Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina.
Well, third time was the charm for Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens on the first night of the NFL Draft. After starting the night at 16th overall, they traded back with the Buffalo Bills to 22, then traded back again with the Tennessee Titans to the 25th selection, all the while improving on the positions of their later picks.
And with that 25th pick they pulled the trigger on one of their biggest needs: Tight End.
Hayden Hurst was their cream of the crop, and there’s plenty of reasons why. At 6’4 250 Hurst is the prototypical match up nightmare that teams rave about, and area the Ravens have lacked in.
Hurst has the ability to work the underneath portion of the field along with the seams, and is a tough and willing blocker, which is huge for the Ravens and their zone run offensive scheme. In two seasons at South Carolina Hurst has racked up 92 catches along with 1,175 yards and 3 TDs.
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This pick is also timely as it fills an obvious void left by Benjamin Watson. Watson had the most receptions on the team (61) in 2017 and was second in receiving yards (522). Look to Hurst to fill the role left by Watson quite nicely.
The main, and really only knock on Hurst is the fact that he’s going to be a 25 year-old rookie. The reason for his higher than average age is that Hurst played in the MLB minor leagues for the Pittsburgh Pirates before he went to South Carolina and fully dedicated himself to football.
Outside of that, Hurst is a player with great hands, excellent toughness, and as mentioned before is a talented and willing blocker – something that puts him atop all the other Tight End prospects in this class.
So where does Hurst fit in terms of the Depth Chart?
Hurst is a Day 1 starter at Tight End. Seeing him and Flacco develop chemistry would be like striking gold for Newsome and Harbaugh, as Flacco is known to love his Tight Ends. Hurst’s only real competition for significant playing time is Maxx Williams (2015 2nd Rd) and Nick Boyle (2015 5th Rd); both whom are serviceable – but are by no means a game breaker the way Hurst is.
Hurst is an elite offensive weapon at the Tight End position and would undoubtably be the best Tight End prospect in this draft if his age wasn’t a factor. His impact should be felt immediately, and he’s a pick that will help the Ravens win now.