Name: Hayden Hurst
Position: Tight end
School: South Carolina
Ht/Wt: 6-4, 250
40 dash: 4.67 seconds
Bench: (did not bench)
Vertical: 31.5 inches
Broad: 120.0 inches
3-cone: 7.19 seconds
20-yard shuttle: 4.37 seconds
How he fits: When the Lions released Eric Ebron before the start of the league year for financial reasons, they left a bit of a hole at the tight end position.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn expects last year’s fourth-round pick Michael Roberts to step up and play a bigger role in his second season. The team also signed veterans Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo in free agency to compete for playing time, but the production those three players can provide in 2018 is a bit of a projection at this point.
View photos of NFL prospect Hayden Hurst.
Also, both Willson and Toilolo will be free agents again next offseason, so the Lions could be in a position to draft a young tight end somewhere in this draft.
Hurst was extremely productive at South Carolina the last two seasons with 48 and 44 receptions, respectively. He also chipped in 616 yards as a sophomore and another 559 this past season as a junior.
The two knocks on Hurst is that he’ll be a 25-year-old rookie after playing a few of years of professional baseball out of high school. He also had just three career touchdowns in his three seasons for the Gamecocks.
Hurst is a big-bodied, sure-handed tight end that should make a friendly target for quarterbacks.
Key observations: Hurst ranked seventh nationally among tight ends in receiving yards and tied for 10th in receptions.
Among his many accolades, including being a semifinalist for the Mackey Award (best tight end in country), Hurst also earned the team's Strength and Conditioning Award, Unselfish Teammate Award, Tenacity Award and was named a captain as a sophomore.
What they had to say about him: “Hurst's initial opportunity at athletic stardom came up short in baseball, but he has his second shot and plays like every down could be his last. His fearless play demeanor combined with size, strength and athleticism make him a well-rounded prospect with the versatility to line up all over the field.
“He's sure-handed and could become a young quarterback's safety blanket if he improves elements of his route running. He should see early snaps and has the ability to become a good combination tight end.” – Lance Zierlein
How he stacks up: Most consider Hurst to be among the top tight ends available in this class alongside Dallas Goedert (South Carolina State), Mike Gesicki (Penn State) and Mark Andrews (Oklahoma).
Hurst is considered to be a potential late first-round pick or second-day selection.
What he had to say: “I think it’s my sure-handedness,” Hurst said at the Combine about what sets him apart from the other tight ends. “I dropped one pass in three years at South Carolina.
“My speed – I hope to run in the 4.5s tomorrow. That’s what I’ve been training at. And just my physicality. My run blocking can obviously be better; I think you can say that about a lot of things. but I think my physicality and my want-to in the blocking game also separates me.”