Happy Thursday, folks. Welcome to Morning Brews. I don’t know about you, but the DC Metro area is in the midst of what I would call a heat wave if I still lived in Cleveland (turns out they just call it “summer” here). In my infinite wisdom, I signed up to join a recreational kickball league - because that’s what washed up young professionals do, right? Well it turns out that tomorrow is the first game and the forecast is calling for...yep, 100*. I’ll do my best to avoid doing a Spongebob impression while I relive the glory days of 5th grade recess, but we’ll see what happens.
To quench your thirst for Michigan sports news, we have a more in-depth look at Mo Hurst this morning and what I think he needs to achieve this coming season to be a first round draft pick. We then turn our eyes to the future, and consider who is the most undervalued member of the 2017 recruiting class. And, as has become the norm, there are five clues in this morning’s Brews that reference a song. Fire away in the comments with your guesses.
When the Saturdays come, when the world gets still, when that town of Ann Arbor lights up, many eyes will once against be on Michigan Football. Keeping with the DLine theme from Tuesday Brews, Michigan fans aren’t the only ones who have high expectations for Maurice Hurst this season. Pro Football Focus released a laudatory prospect preview on the rising RS Senior on Tuesday. The headline takeaway is that, based on Hurst’s career production, PFF projects him to be a day one pick in the 2018 NFL Draft - and they say that he’s one of the top interior DLine players in the college game.
Specifically, PFF said, “Hurst has performed at a very high level each of the past two seasons, grading in the top 20 among all interior defensive lineman each season. Hurst’s 2016 grade of 86.3 overall ranks within the top 10 of returning players at his position for 2017. . . . When on the field, few players have been as productive as Hurst.”
While offering high praise, PFF’s analysis does highlight what Hurst needs to show during his senior campaign - durability and consistency. Can Hurst perform at a high level for a full season now that he’ll be a starter? I think he can, but he’ll need to prove it to convince NFL teams he’s worthy of a high draft pick. If Hurst can put up numbers similar to what Chris Wormley did last year, I think he’ll hear his name called on day one - and he’s well positioned to do just that. Hurst’s numbers last year (34 tks, 11.5 tfl, 4.5 sacks) were strong. All I think he needs to do is add about 10 tackles, keep TFLs in the same ballpark, and add another couple sacks.
How does he do that? Well, as I said on Tuesday, Hurst is a fundamentally strong presence up front. He reads defences well, has the strength and technique to stay on the line of scrimmage, and the athleticism to alter plays and grab tackles outside his area. Where I think Hurst could really benefit this year is from playing with Rashan Gary consistently. Gary is going to draw the attention of OLines, and he’s going to draw double teams. That will give Hurst opportunities to step up and makes plays - and if he can do that, and plus up his stats like I discussed, I think he’s a late first-round pick on Draft Day 2018. If he posts similar numbers to last year or has trouble with durability, then I think he’s more likely to be chosen in the second round.
Did I get it right? Weigh in with your take below and in the comments.
Where will Maurice Hurst be drafted?
This poll is closed
Fourth Round or later (comment)
Kwity Paye may be the most undervalued member of Michigan's 2017 class https://t.co/6LwUHAWvRa— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) July 10, 2017
One thing that Jim Harbaugh does well is recruit. He recruits the premiere players who can step in and be great right away (here’s looking at you, Rashan Gary) and he recruits guys who are under appreciated but nonetheless turn out to be great players. Nick Baumgardner thinks Kwity Paye is one of those guys. Paye received little love from the ratings services (3*, #484 in the 247 Composite), and Baumgardner thinks they got it wrong. He says, “Paye is, for my money right now, the most undervalued prospect in this group. . . . This guy is a football player, he's talented and, if his weight and strength catches up to where it needs to be, he could play earlier than most might think.” Who do you think is most undervalued in the 2017 class? My money is on Kurt Taylor. Weigh in down in the comments section with your pick.
After recruiting comes coaching, and Joel Klatt over at Fox Sports thinks Jim Harbaugh is one of the best people at doing just that - developing the talent he has on his roster. On Colin Cowherd’s show Klatt said, “There is no coaching staff in America that teaches the game, and in particular on the field, like Jim Harbaugh does. He will get more out of a team than anyone else in America. . . . Michigan is a Top-10 program perennially with Jim Harbaugh as the head coach.” This season is going to put Klatt’s take to the test. Michigan Football has to develop a lot of talent very quickly due to how young this team is. I, for one, am optimistic. We’ll see what happens.