Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, who is one of the top defensive tackles in the 2018 NFL Draft, fell out of the first round. Should the Chargers take a chance on him on Day 2? Plus, other prospects Los Angeles could target.
Maurice Hurst didn’t hear his name called on Thursday.
But it shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. Hurst was diagnosed with a heart condition at the NFL Scouting Combine. And even though he’s been cleared to play, some teams reportedly removed him from their draft boards.
If Hurst is available when the Chargers are on the clock in the second round, general manager Tom Telesco should highly consider drafting the Wolverine product. He just missed out on my top 10 first-round choice list, but that doesn’t mean I think he’s a bad player. In fact, I think he’s a very good player who I’d love to have on Day 2.
The Chargers need help in the middle of the defensive line. They were one of the worst units when it came to stopping the run. Not only that, but Corey Liuget is suspended for the first four games of the season and Brandon Mebane just turned 33 years and is coming off injury. Hurst may be undersized (6-foot-1, 291 pounds), but he could be a difference-maker at the 3-tech, the position he is best suited for, in Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme. Pro Football Focus is extremely high on Hurst after his great 2017 campaign.
Maurice Hurst is sliding in the draft so far. Where will the number three prospect on our board ultimately wind up? pic.twitter.com/9Ui0c18gi2
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 27, 2018
Telesco has been known to take some players who have dealt with serious injuries in college (receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen come to mind), but I’m not sure if he is one of those managers who is scared off by Hurst’s condition. I hope he isn’t, because if the Chargers steal Hurst, they just added two stud defenders (Hurst and safety Derwin James) at positions of need.
Another guy who stands out is Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams. In my opinion, Williams ranked second among tackles just behind Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey, who was taken ninth overall by the San Francisco 49ers. Scouts say his 2017 tape didn’t match his dominant 2016 tape–a year in which he earned first-team All-American and first-team All-Conference honors–but he was injured last year (started only five games). They love his athleticism, technique and power in the run game, but they also say his lack of length (6-foot-5, 296 pounds with 33-inch arms) could be the reason he is moved to guard; I think he’s a plug-and-play right tackle, a position the Chargers should look to upgrade (unless they believe in 2017 sixth-round pick Sam Tevi or have recently re-signed tackle/guard Michael Schofield compete with starter Joe Barksdale).
Who else could the Chargers be targeting? According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, the Chargers appear to be interested in Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph. The Chargers have Philip Rivers, but I’m not opposed to finding his heir apparent and having the youngster learn from the future Hall of Famer for two or three years. However, I’m not sure trading up for Rudolph is the best of ideas. For Hurst? Sure. Rudolph, who was projected to go in the first round in a few mocks, might get taken quickly; but if the Bolts want to go in this direction, they could wait until the following round and take Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta, who I believe is the better prospect.
Even with the selection of James, I’m all for adding more defensive talent early on, specifically at linebacker and defensive tackle. SAM linebackers Lorenzo Carter or Uchenna Nwosu, both who could rush off the edge as well, would be great picks in the second round. I talked about what they’d bring to the table here. Bolt Beat’s Travis Wakeman also made a case for Texas LB Malik Jefferson, who I’d be very happy with. One of my favorite sleepers: Rutgers OLB/Edge Kemoko Turay. The 6-foot-5, 253-pounder dealt with shoulder injuries in 2015 and 2016 and only combined for 38 total tackles from 2014-16 (he did have 7.5 sacks as a redshirt freshman), but he played well as a full-time starter his senior year (2017), finishing with 65 total tackles, including seven for loss, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble. Not a ton of production and durability is a concern, which could cause him to fall past the third, but watch his highlights and I guarantee he’ll be a favorite of yours, too.
UCF’s Shaquem Griffin is a favorite of mine (his story AND his play); he’d be a nice pick if he makes it to the third. South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard, Ohio State’s Jerome Baker and Clemson’s Dorian O’Daniel are other fine WILL linebackers.
As for defensive tackles, Florida State’s Derrick Nnadi, VIrginia Tech’s Tim Settle and N.C. State’s B.J. Hill would be excellent choices in the second or third round. All three, excluding a top sleeper in Sam Houston State’s P.J. Clark (likely a fourth-round pick), were mentioned here. Stanford’s Harrison Phillips is also high on scouts list. Phillips led all FBS defensive linemen with 102 total tackles in 2017. His production (which also included 16.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two forced fubmles) will catch Telesco’s eye (as it did mine), I just prefer the other guys I listed.
And though running back isn’t a top need, Anthony Lynn could look to add depth and create a dominant one-two punch. Penn State’s Saquon Barkley (No. 2 overall), San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny (No. 27 overall) and Georgia’s Sony Michel (No. 31 overall) are gone, but LSU’s Derrius Guice and USC’s Ronald Jones are still there. If those two are available when the Chargers pick in the second, it’ll be tempting. They could also look at Georgia’s Nick Chubb in the third (he might not be there) or Oregon’s Royce Freeman. However, this class is so talented and deep that they can even wait later to find an impact player; Tennessee’s John Kelly is my guy.