Detroit Lions: A tight end for every round

16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images)
16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images) /
2 of 8

Hayden Hurst out of South Carolina has taken an interesting route to the NFL. He went in the 17th round of the 2012 MLB draft to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitcher. Hurst spent two seasons playing rookie ball in the Gulf Coast League as a first baseman. He walked on with the Gamecocks football program in 2015 and has never looked back.

Hurst holds the team’s records for receptions and yardage by a tight end. He uses his body to keep defenders away from contestable balls the majority of the time. He is a hands catcher. With the ball in the air, he runs a path through where the ball will be catchable, a common trait among baseball playing receivers. The downside of that is that he is not always high pointing the ball, instead focusing on catching it in stride.

When he gets a ball caught in stride, Hurst is just getting started. He is a load to bring down in the secondary. This is not a tight end that is going to need a couple years to develop the requisite strength to play the position. With the ball in his hands, Hurst’s advanced age becomes immediately apparent. He will be turning 25 before the season starts.

Hurst has already grown into his body. He stands 6’4″, weighs 250 lbs, and is more than happy to deliver a blow after making the catch. Hurst shares more than just size and weight with Ebron’s combine stats. He is .07 second slower on the 40-yard dash, 0.5″ less on the vertical jump and exactly the same length on the Broad jump. That is about where the similarities between the two end. Unlike Ebron, Hurst actually did the rest of the combine drills.

Hurst is a load to bring to the ground. He never goes down like he’s been shot at first contact. He is also not particularly prone to concentration drops. When you hear Hayden Hurst interviewed he comes across as someone who is glad every day to have the opportunity to compete for work in the NFL.

Hurst is the best tight end in the draft. If there is one worthy of a first-round pick, it would be him. I doubt the Lions are even considering a move like this, but if they did this should be their man. He is physically ready to go but needs to work on technique as a blocker and route runner.