Big things are expected for Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Hurst is projected a first-round selection, going No. 22 to the Bills in ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper’s mock draft released Thursday. Pro Football Focus, which rated Hurst the top player at any position, projects Hurst going No. 3 overall in its mock draft, going to Indianapolis.
The Wolverines have three other players who are anticipated to be drafted — offensive lineman Mason Cole, fullback Khalid Hill and linebacker Mike McCray.
“In terms of a guy like (Hurst), in today’s NFL you’ve got to get after the quarterback and be disruptive and that’s what Maurice Hurst is,” Kiper said in an ESPN conference call Thursday afternoon. “For Buffalo, you don’t have Marcell Dareus anymore. You don’t have Kyle Williams (who) is a free agent, so I think that’s a need area for the Buffalo Bills.
“If you look at the defensive tackle’s production, his was better than just about anybody in terms of getting behind the line of scrimmage, tackles for loss and harassing quarterbacks. I think for a 3-technique, disruptor, quick off the ball, he’s the kind of guy I think for Buffalo and for teams looking for a disruptive defensive tackle. They’re hard to find, and he’s one of those guys.”
Hurst was a consensus All-American, All-Big Ten and the team’s Most Valuable Player this past season, during which he registered 60 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. For his career, he had 132 tackles, including 33 tackles for loss and 13 sacks. Hurst also was a four-time Academic All-American.
Cole and McCray were co-captains for the Wolverines last season and both are participating in the Senior Bowl this week. Cole started 51 games and was at left tackle for three seasons but played his preferred center during the 2016 season. He moved back to left tackle for the 2017 season because he was the best option but has said he will play guard or center in the NFL.
“Mason Cole’s versatility is going to help him,” Kiper said. “He can pretty much be your swing man along the line. He’ll draw some interest in the fourth or fifth round.”
Like Cole, McCray offers versatility, according to Kiper. McCray was second on the team in tackles with 84 (behind linebacker Devin Bush’s 100), including 17 tackles for loss and five sacks.
“I have him right now as the ninth-best inside linebacker,” Kiper said on the conference call. “He’s versatile to play both. He could be a good backup, special teams. I think maybe late rounds for him and a guy who certainly can make a team and be a contributor.”
Kiper has thought highly of Hill and considers him one of the top prospects in the draft at fullback. He believes Hill, who had 10 touchdowns during the 2016 season, is “more of a late-round pick.”