By: Ryan Cearfoss
- Stretch the field
- Ideal Size
- Good hands
Athleticism- Hayden Hurst is a fairly athletic tight end and South Carolina knew it. On top of being used downfield in the passing game, they used him on screen passes and end around. Hurst runs well with the ball in his hands, while he doesn’t have elite speed he has enough to make chunk plays to help a team move the chains.
Stretch the field- Hurst was used as a downfield target a decent amount during the season making a living on seam routes. He has the speed to outrun most linebackers and the size to body safeties. This combination allows for a nice downfield weapon for a quarterback.
Versatile- A big part of Hurst’s game that stands out is his ability to do a little bit of everything. He lined up in line at tight end, split wide and as an H-Back out of the backfield. He excelled in the receiving game as well as one of the better blockers at tight end in this draft class.
- Red Zone threat
- Route Running
Red Zone Threat- For having outstanding size and athleticism Hurst was incredibly inefficient in the red zone scoring only 3 touchdowns in 3 years as a starter. This type of scoring production is eye-opening not knowing where it falls on Hurst or the quarterback. Either way, it needs to be taken into account.
Route Running/Raw- Due to spending 2 years in the minor leagues for baseball Hurst is still extremely raw when it comes to route running and certain other aspects of his game. On routes that normally require the right end to flatten out, he tends to round off his routes allowing for the defender to close the gap. If this problem persists it can lead to turnover for the defense. He can definitely improve on this with the right coaching but it could cause issues.
Age- Hayden Hurst is coming into the NFL draft as a 25-year-old rookie. At the right end position, it normally takes the player a few years to adjust to the NFL whether it be blocking schemes or route running. When most tight ends break out around that age after being in the league for a few years, Hurst has to make the transition quickly so that the most can be made from his career.
Hayden Hurst is one of the top overall tight ends in this current draft. He may not be as dynamic of an athlete a few of the others but he is still athletic enough to make a big impact in the passing game. What separates him is he can do a little bit of everything whether it’s receiving or blocking an offense can feel comfortable having him on the field all three downs in multiple roles. Hurst has the talent to be a good tight end in the league for a long time and if he can polish his game he could be a huge impact in the league.
Hurst should be in the running for one of the top 3 tight ends off of the boards in rookie drafts this year. Being he is an older prospect he could make an impact before some of the other rookie tight ends. He has the ability in the NFL to be a high volume guy ala Jordan Reed and if he can get his red zone production up to where it should be Hurst has the ability to consistently be a TE1 in a fairly bad tight end landscape.