Believe it or not, Hayden Hurst has experience on the baseball diamond. Drafted in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB Draft, he spent two years playing rookie ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But enough about that because Hurst is now looking to make a name for himself with the big boys of the NFL.
At 6’4″ and 250 pounds, Hurst obviously has good size as a TE and he knows how to use it. He set school records for tight ends with catches (48) and yards (616) for the South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2016 season and broke the record for career receptions for tight ends in 2017 (Pro Football Weekly).
As a receiver, Hurst is fast and explosive and is able to run efficient routes as a TE. He can use his size to disrupt man to man coverage when a linebacker is matched with him and will be a threat in the red zone for any team that takes him in the draft. With only one drop against 100 career catches, according to NFL.com, Hurst can be a dependable option at receiver.
As a blocker, Hurst could use some improvement. While not a bad blocker, Hurst can improve his play strength at point of attack if he gets his hand placement right. He ducks his head into contact and won’t always look to improve positioning with quality footwork after contact, according to Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.
“He’s a grown man out there. No, he is literally a grown man. I love watching him play but he’s 24 now so I think he’s maxed out. He is who he’s going to be physically so now we have to see how much better he gets as a football player.” – NFC Player Personnel Executive
Due to Hurst’s previous stint as a professional baseball player, he is at a ripe age of 24 years old and will be 25 years old when next season starts. While this puts a limit on his window as a TE in the NFL, Hurst looks to be an instant addition to a team’s offense when the time comes.
The Browns have made some good moves so far this offseason and, luckily for Cleveland, the tight end position does not appear to need an upgrade for the time being, so Hurst will surely see his chance come somewhere else.
Draft Projection: Rounds 1-2
NFL Comparison: Dallas Clark
40 Yard Dash: 4.67 seconds
Vertical Jump: 31.5 inches
Broad Jump: 120 inches