The Oakland Raiders continue to fortify the trenches.
On Day Two of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Silver and Black selected Sam Houston State Bearkat P.J. Hall in the second round (No. 57 overall), someone who will bring some tenacity to the defensive line. A day later, Hall will be joined by former University of Michigan Wolverine Maurice Hurst Jr., after the team selected him in the fifth round (No. 140 overall). Hurst is 6’1”, 292 pounds, and is a force to be reckoned with.
During Hurst’s time at Michigan, he registered 130 tackles, 32 for loss, 13.5 sacks, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. The Westwood, Mass., native has been touted as one of, if not the best, defensive tackles in the 2018 NFL Draft, but a medical condition caused teams to proceed with caution; however, it appears as though the big man is healthy and ready to go.
"I don't see it [his health] being a problem at all."
“The fact is, he does have a heart condition," General Manager Reggie McKenzie added. "But it is a situation where he’ll get checked every year. Right now, he’s good.”
Growing up, Hurst was raised by his mother Nicole Page, a former New England Patriots cheerleader; however, he is also the son of former NFL cornerback Maurice Hurst Sr. He was a two-time All-Massachusetts high school football player, and redshirted his first year at Michigan.
Following Day One of the draft, NFL analyst Gil Brandt had Hurst listed as one of his top available prospects, fortunately for the Raiders he dropped to the fifth round. Hurst was originally projected as a second round talent by NFL analyst, but his slip to the fifth round will add fuel to the fire. The 22 year old had a message for the teams that passed on him.
“Just upset and disappointed in teams that decided not to pick me,” Hurst said. “But one team got a great player.”
Hurst shared his excitement to join the Silver and Black, noting that it feels like a place he can call home. Head Coach Jon Gruden has emphasized repeatedly that the Raiders need more of a pass rush up the middle to aid defensive end Khalil Mack.
“This is going to be a great, great day for the Raiders, and we’re really excited to add you to our team,” Gruden told Hurst via phone call. “I know it’s been a long day and the only reason you’re in the fifth round is because I know people have their question marks, but we have no doubts about you.”
During Hurst’s conference call with the media Saturday, he expressed his joy to work alongside the former Defensive Player of the Year, as well as some of his new teammates.
“Khalil Mack, [linebacker] Bruce Irvin, [linebacker] Shilique Calhoun, [defensive tackle] P.J. [Hall], [defensive end] Arden Key,” Hurst included his rookie teammates. “It’s just such a talented group of players.”
Next week, the Raiders will host their Rookie Mini-Camp at the team’s facility in Alameda, Calif., and it’ll be our first time seeing Hurst in the mix with some of his new teammates.