The Oakland Raiders got a solid rookie season from 2018 fifth round pick Maurice Hurst, and you can expect even more in 2019.
The Oakland Raiders had a couple of young bright spots on their defense last season, as former first rounders Karl Joseph and Gareon Conley both stepped up big time. Up front, Maurice Hurst proved to be one of the better rookie defensive tackles in the NFL, and you can expect a big leap from him during his sophomore season in 2019.
Last season, Hurst was a standout player along the Raiders defensive line, as he was a guy that played well above his fifth round draft slot. Hurst was slated to be a first round pick prior to the NFL Scouting Combine, but a heart defect forced him to sit out the combine, and seriously affect his draft status this past April.
Doctors gave Hurst a green light in terms of pursuing his NFL career, and while teams continued to pass on him, the Raiders finally tabbed him with 140th selection in the fifth round. The Raiders got some flack for taking a chance on Hurst, but he proved all the doubters wrong, putting together a rookie season that saw him become the No. 4 ranked defensive player on the team according to Pro Football Focus.
Overall, Hurst ended up leading the Raiders in sacks, as he got to the quarterback four times in 2018. The Raiders defense as a unit was historically bad at getting after the quarterback this past season, and adding talent on the edges have to be priority No. 1 for the organization this offseason.
The addition of more talent on the edges should only help the development of Hurst, who was more than worth the fifth round pick in 2018. He has the potential to be an All-Pro player for the Raiders moving forward, and will be a building block for this organization on the defensive side of the ball moving forward.
With six of the first 100 picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and nearly $80 million in cap space, the Raiders have a legitimate opportunity to revamp this roster in a big way this offseason. The team brought in a new defensive line coach in Brentson Buckner, who absolutely loves Hurst, PJ Hall, and Arden Key, and should be an outstanding addition to the coaching staff this season.
If the Raiders are to erase the memories of a second consecutive losing season, they will need to be better on the defensive side of the ball, and have some solid young pieces in place on all three levels of the defense. Hurst has the opportunity to be a special player at the NFL level, and with better pieces around him, he could be in for his first Pro Bowl season this Fall.
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