After taking another step forward in 2019, Raiders defensive tackle Maurice Hurst could be in for his first Pro Bowl selection as the team moves to Las Vegas.
The Oakland Raiders rolled the dice on Maurice Hurst Jr. during the 2018 NFL Draft, and they certainly have to be happy that they did. Originally projected as a top-5, or at least a first half of the first round draft pick, Hurst fell due to a heart condition, which he was cleared of before the draft.
In his rookie season in 2018, he was one of the lone bright spots on a Raiders defense that finished the season with only four wins. This past season, he continued to improve in Paul Guenther's system, and is on the cusp of becoming one of the better young defensive tackles in the game.
Extremely athletic, strong, and quick, Hurst is a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen, and will be a key cog on this Raiders defensive line as they head to Las Vegas. He and fellow second-year tackle P.J. Hall took a step in the right direction in 2019, and Hurst could be headed towards greatness very soon.
According to Neil Hornsby from Pro Football Focus, Hurst finished third in the NFL this season in win-rate when going up against two-plus blockers. That is third only to Aaron Donald and Javon Hargrave.
That is pretty impressive stuff for a guy who continues to get better, and should be even more of a focal point for the Raiders next season. Hurst appeared in all 16 games for the Raiders this past season, making four starts, and showed the kind of production that team was hoping for when they selected him in 2018.
For the season, Hurst not only finished with 3.5 sacks, giving him 7.5 for his career, but he also deflected three passes, had two fumble recoveries, and everyone can remember his 55-yard rumble after an interception of the Tennessee Titans' Ryan Tannehill.
Las Vegas is going to be an exciting adventure for this franchise, and guys like Hurst will be the cornerstones for the Raiders finally becoming a playoff contender again. Not only do I like Hurst to have a monster year in 2020, but I like him to make his first Pro Bowl, which, when all is said and done, will be the first of many.