Entering his second year, the spotlight begins to train on Maurice Hurts. After posting a team-high four sacks, the Raiders look to the former Michigan standout to increase those numbers. Fortunately, for Hurst, he lines up next to a brutish nose tackle in Johnathan Hankins. Hankins’ presence will help Hurst in numerous ways. Yet, what can fans and media expect from this duo? To answer that, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria discuss this potentially disruptive pair.
With a full season of Mo Hurst next to Hankins and an upgrade at DE, where do you see Hurst in the AFC, as far as tackles?
Big Mo provided glimpses of what he can eventually become — a lightning quick destroyer for offenses at defensive tackle. That play where he came off the snap and engulfed then Arizona QB Josh Rosen for the sack was one of the Raiders most impressive splash plays last season.
With improvements in personnel at the outside edge spots, teams will focus their attention on other players and not just Hurst.
With more one-on-one opportunities, we should see marked improvement in run defense and pass rush from the fifth-rounder. Those glimpses of why he was considered a first-rounder (before the heart ailment was discovered) will become routine. He’s an absolute terror to stop one-on-one. Even when chipped, Hurst still kept going.
If Hurst gets going and PJ Hall grows as well, the Raiders draft haul in 2018 will be a hell of a boon. Two blink-of-an-eye defensive tackles wrecking the interior helps the entire defense.
In Paul Guenther’s scheme, the Raiders want Hurst to play the Geno Atkins role. With that said, Hurst does possess the speed to affect a measure of pass rush. Yet, he will need to factor more versus the run as well. Granted, Hankins should keep him mostly clean. However, four sacks should be viewed as an outstanding starting point, not a highwater mark. Now, if Hurst is injury free, he should compile quality numbers and rank somewhere in the top-15 of conference tackles. In addition, a perimeter pass rush will do nothing but help.