It’s likely that University of Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. is among the players being considered by the Raiders as the ideal candidate to be picked at No. 10. If so, the Raiders have a lot more homework to do than they expected.
Hurst Jr. was diagnosed with a heart condition Saturday at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, according to ESPN, and did not participate in any drills or workouts with other defensive linemen.
The severity of Hurst’s condition remains unknown. He reportedly is slated to undergo further testing next week.
Until those results are known, teams such as the Raiders have to adjust accordingly. Utah defensive lineman Lowell Lotulelei told reporters at the combine that Hurst, upon learning that Lotulelei is the brother of Carolina Panthers standout defensive tackle Star Lotulelie, that he has the same heart condition as Star Lotulelei.
Five years ago, the older Lotulelei was diagnosed with a heart condition at the scouting combine and went from a potential No. 1 overall pick to No. 14.
Star Lotulelei ultimately was cleared by doctors to resume exercising and was drafted by the Panthers. He quickly developed into a standout player for the Panthers and has missed only four games in his first five seasons.
Hurst, 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, had 5 1/2 sacks last season and 13 tackles for loss. His superb play sent his stock soaring, and he was projected to be a first-round pick, perhaps in the top 10.
The Raiders have a huge need at defensive tackle, especially if they aren’t able to re-sign Justin Ellis, or opt not to bring him back. Second-year player Eddie Vanderdoes is recovering from a torn ACL and his return date is unknown.
Hence, defensive tackle prospects such as Hurst and Vita Vea are on the Raiders radar. The news Saturday changes things, until further notice.
The Raiders have so many needs that they can’t afford to gamble on Hurst, unless they have full assurance from doctors that his heart condition won’t affect his ability to play full time in the NFL. Besides, there are enough top-notch players that the Raiders have other options.
One intriguing possibility is, the Raiders use their first-round pick on another player and consider taking Hurst if he falls into the second round. Lotulelei didn’t fall that far, but time will tell with Hurst.