May 9, 2016
ANN ARBOR — By now, most now that Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is viewed as a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL draft by just about every analyst alive.
Most know Michigan corner Jourdan Lewis is also on a radar or two. Tight end Jake Butt as well.
But there’s one more returning Michigan player who has some NFL draft attention, and it’s a somewhat surprising name.
Pro Football Focus recently slotted Michigan fourth-year junior Maurice Hurst as a first-round pick in its early 2017 mock draft. Hurst will enter his fourth season with the program in 2016 after putting up 35 tackles (6 1/2 for a loss) and 3 sacks last season as a nose tackle and defensive tackle.
“The third Michigan defender in the last five picks (joining Lewis and Peppers), Hurst fires off the ball and his +38.0 overall grade ranks third among returning interior defensive linemen despite playing only 418 snaps in 2015,” PFF’s Steve Palazzolo wrote. “Hurst shows the power to push the pocket and disrupt in the backfield, though he does need to do a better job of handling double teams and finishing plays.”
The 6-foot-2, 282-pound Hurst will see plenty of reps this season along Michigan’s interior, playing alongside either Bryan Mone or Ryan Glasgow — or possibly in some other combination.
Versatile and fast off the ball, Hurst — who played in all 13 games last season — is eligible for next season’s draft, though one would think he’d need to improve on every one of those 2015 stats to seriously entertain declaring for it.
Meanwhile, Butt also received a first-round draft grade last week as CBS’ Dane Brugler slotted him No. 29 overall.
ESPN’s Todd McShay listed Butt in his group of players he also considered for an early first-round grade.
On Peppers, McShay wrote: “Peppers has the versatility NFL teams crave from their defensive backs. He’s physical enough to make plays as a run defender, fluid enough in coverage to match up with wide receivers one-on-one, and rangy enough to cover a lot of ground as a deep safety in the middle of the field.”