Right on the heels of yesterday’s news of the pending free agency of Dontari Poe, Taylor Gabriel, and Kemal Ishmael comes some fresh Falcons’ draft intrigue. Last night, Atlanta had a formal sit-down with South Carolina tight end prospect Hayden Hurst.
Falcons had a formal meeting last night with top tight end prospect Hayden Hurst (6-5, 250) from South Carolina, I’m told.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 1, 2018
Hayden Hurst is considered one of the better tight end prospects in the draft. At 6’5, 250, Hurst has the heft to make an immediate impact as a blocker, but also possesses the speed and hands of a play-maker as a receiver. With one drop over his collegiate career, he displays confidence and reliability in the passing game.
That’s something Atlanta sorely, sorely needs from its tight ends.
Hurst will enter the NFL as a 25-year-old rookie, as he was initially drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates as a pitcher in 2012, spending two years in the minors before heading to the University of South Carolina as a walk-on. His age may signal his ceiling at the NFL level, but the good news for Atlanta is his ceiling means that he would be an upgrade to the tight end position on day one.
Reading the tea leaves a bit, Atlanta’s expressed interest in Hayden Hurst suggests that the Falcons are ready to rid themselves of Levine Toilolo’s one-dimensional play and albatross of a contract. With the relative unknown of Eric Saubert seeing little more than special teams work, Hurst could slide into the TE2 spot and boost the Falcons’ offensive production from the position. He could be a bigger boon for the offense than Taylor Gabriel’s eventual replacement.
The 2018 NFL Combine is just getting started, but we’re already receiving some clues as to Atlanta’s plans for the offseason. We’ll see what today brings.