NFL

Raiders’ Hurst Takes Big Step in Second Season

Defensive tackle provided strong pass rush from the inside and was graded as the top defensive player in 2019

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Maurice Hurst didn’t have spectacular numbers. He didn’t lead the Raiders in sacks, pressures or tackles.

But the second-year defensive tackle was healthy for the entire season, played all 16 games and was a difference-maker, providing consistent pass-rush pressure from the inside and took on blockers and closed gaps in the running game.

As the Raiders look forward to the 2020 season, Hurst gives them a strong presence in the center of the defensive line to go with edge rushers Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby.

Hurst this season was in on 18 tackles, with four for loss, had 3½ sacks, eight quarterback hits, two fumble recoveries, three batted passes and an interception, which he returned for 55 yards.

In fact, according to the analytic website Pro Football Focus, Hurst was the Raiders’ best defender in 2019.

Wrote Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus: "Hurst came out of college with first-round credentials, and while he hasn’t exactly dominated, he finishes the 2019 season as the highest-graded Raiders defensive player at 72.2 overall. Don’t be fooled by sack totals. Hurst was the team’s most efficient pass rusher, grading at 76.5 and pressuring the quarterback 38 times."

Hurst was a fifth-round pick in 2018 – he had been evaluated as a high-round pick but a heart condition made teams wary – who played 13 games as a rookie. Going into his second year, Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire had predicted Hurst could be a breakout player.

Wrote Farrar: "If Hurst stays healthy, he has the speed through gaps and strong hand movement to dominate offensive linemen."

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