In the Raiders’ defensive scheme under coordinator Paul Guenther, one defensive position is especially important. It’s the 3-technique spot in which the tackle lines up on the outer shoulder of the opposing guard.
His job, at Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle noted recently, is to get penetration and “create havoc behind the line of scrimmage.”
Rookie Maurice Hurst will compete for the job, and the former Michigan standout already has been impressive in his spring workouts since being taken in the fifth round. Hurst, who had health issues at Michigan because of a heart condition, was seen as a first-round talent going into the draft, but slipped far into the draft because of medical concerns.
Now, if healthy – and the Raiders say doctors tell them he is – Hurst could be a formidable addition to the Oakland defense. Guenther saw what Hurst did at Michigan and believes he can be a star. Hurst, too, told Kawahara that as a college player, he used to admire what Geno Atkins did at the 3-technique spot in Guenther’s defense in Cincinnati, and is excited to play the same role.
“It definitely gets me amped up,” Hurst told Kawahara. “I mean, the Bengals, their best player was their 3-technique. That’s the focal point of their defense. That’s what coach Guenther’s used to getting and that’s what he’s gotten his whole time in the NFL.”
Steve Lorenz, who covers Michigan football for 24/7 Sports, closely watched Hurst during his time in college and also sees the Raiders rookie as a potential major-impact player in 2018.
Lorenz told Jeff Smith of 24/7 Sports’ Raiders’ website that there’s no disputing Hurst would have gone high in the first round had the health issues not surfaced.
“They got a complete disruptor in the middle,” Lorenz said of Hurst in a Raiders uniform. “Mo is the best defensive tackle that’s ever played at Michigan. I feel comfortable saying this. He single-handedly almost beat Michigan State by himself last season. He has one of the quickest get-offs I’ve ever seen on the defensive line, but supplements it with elite strength and moves to create problems for opposing offenses. Watch the film against Florida. Watch the film against Michigan State. He’s a force.”
Hurst will report with the rest of his Raiders teammates July 25 for training camp. At that point, Hurst will begin his quest in earnest to win a starting spot and to see if he can live up to the scouting reports.