Draft stock for UM's Maurice Hurst still up for debate

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Maurice Hurst's off-the-field health issue could affect where he's taken in the NFL Draft.

Michigan’s Maurice Hurst, the All-American defensive tackle who was cleared medically to continue playing football after being held out of the NFL following an irregular EKG, is expected to be the highest-drafted Michigan player in the NFL Draft.

But where Hurst will go in the draft is still being hotly contested.

Initially, before the NFL Combine, Hurst was pretty much considered a first-round selection. After he was cleared by doctors, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said he projected Hurst on the cusp of the first round and had him as the first pick of the second round in his most recent mock draft.

Pro Football Focus, which named Hurst as its highest-rated college player last season, projects him as the No. 4 pick of the draft to the Cleveland Browns. But ESPN analyst Todd McShay wrote Monday that teams are concerned about Hurst’s EKG, and he indicated he could fall to Day 3.

That’s been the most extreme response concerning Hurst’s draft prospects. Kirk Herbstreit, a college football analyst for ESPN, said last week that Hurst is on his list of “sneaky” prospects because his status fell off a bit following the combine diagnosis.

Herbstreit believes analysts may be sleeping on Hurst because he didn’t participate at the combine for medical reasons.

“It’s almost as if (players like Hurst) get forgotten,” Herbstreit said. “People better remember. Just turn the film on. He is a quick, he’s a little undersized but makes up for it with his quickness, and he’s a playmaker. We’ve got these big guys, inside guys, and I’m telling you, Mo Hurst will be one of those guys.

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“I don’t know where he’s going to go, my guess is somewhere in the first round, but he’s gonna be a guy next year everybody’s watching and he’s making plays in the backfield, and people are going to be going, ‘Who’s this guy?’ I think he’s slipping through the cracks and hopefully somebody, if he’s healthy and everything is OK, somebody is going to get a steal in my opinion with whoever picks him up.”

Kiper said Hurst, Michigan's MVP last season and top defensive player, “played like a borderline first-round” pick last season and said he could be a late first-rounder or early second-rounder.

Mason Cole, a four-year starting offensive lineman for the Wolverines, including three at left tackle, was named Tuesday by Pro Football Focus as the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft. He had 864 snaps at center in 2016 and 2,554 at left tackle over three seasons.

Kiper projects Cole will be drafted anywhere from the third to fifth rounds. NFL.com's Mike Mayock ranked his top 100 players in the draft and has Hurst at No. 42 and Cole at No. 84.

Michigan linebacker Mike McCray, a co-captain with Cole last season, was given a sixth-round grade by Kiper.