Maurice Hurst's steep fall down the draft board finally ended in the fifth round. On Saturday, the Raiders decided to take a chance on a Michigan defensive tackle who boasts first-round talent, but also has a heart condition, which is why he was still on the board Saturday afternoon.
Let's check in with Hurst:
In Hurst, the Raiders are getting a defensive tackle who has the potential to anchor their defensive line in the years to come. During his final two seasons at Michigan, Hurst racked up 24.5 tackles for a loss and 10.5 sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the third-best prospect -- not in the fourth round, but in the entire draft.
He's an all-around contributor. He can rush the passer from the interior of the line.
And he can stop the run.
He's exactly what the Raiders needed. A year ago, the Raiders' defense ranked 29th in DVOA. Despite having Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, they finished with 31 sacks, which ranked 24th out of the 32 teams. The Raiders also have an opening on the interior of their line. Justin Ellis and Eddie Vanderdoes are their starting defensive tackles. Last year, Ellis graded out as PFF's 45th-best interior defender. Vanderdoes finished 105th.
But there's a reason Hurst dropped all the way to the fifth round. At the combine,He was , but clearly, teams were still concerned about the condition. They were concerned enough that Hurst dropped from a first-round pick to a fifth-round pick. Some teams took Hurst off their board entirely.
Hearing from a number of teams that there remains serious concern about the heart condition with DT Maurice Hurst. He is off a number of boards— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 27, 2018
If Hurst's career isn't hindered by the heart condition, the Raiders' decision to draft him could go down as one of the best moves of the 2018 NFL Draft. He'll help their defense immensely. If the heart condition does prevent him from enjoying the career he deserves, the Raiders' decision will be judged as a failure, but failures in Round 5 don't set back your franchise immeasurably.
Jon Gruden and the Raiders are gambling on Hurst. But based on the upside that Hurst contains and the Raiders' clear need for defensive help, it's a risk worth taking.