The Raiders got lucky in 2018 when defensive tackle Maurice Hurst dropped all the way to the fifth round because of a heart condition.
Oakland selected the former Michigan standout (who was cleared by doctors) and watched him put up a strong rookie year. On a defense with little pass rush (13 team sacks), Hurst had four of them – from the inside of the defensive line – and was in on 31 tackles.
Now, with added help along the defensive line, Hurst could be poised for a much better season in 2019.
In fact, Marc Sessler of NFL.com predicted this week that Hurst will be a Pro Bowl player in his second season.
Wrote Sessler: "The interior D-lineman was the best Raiders defender for long stretches in 2018 and looms as a steal for the silver and black."
According to the analytic website Pro Football Focus, Hurst was the Raiders’ highest-graded tackler, and ranked No. 6 across the NFL among all interior defenders. PFF gave him high grades as both a pass rusher and run defender.
Sessler believes Hurst is one of several first- or second-year Raiders positioned for a breakout, Pro Bowl-type season, including cornerback Gareon Conley, defensive ends Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell, running back Josh Jacobs and safety Johnathan Abram.
Hurst and the Raiders, who recently completed the team’s full-roster minicamp, will get back together for the start of training camp in mid-July.