James Hurst, LT, North Carolina (HT: 6'5"; WT: 296 lbs)
NFL Comparison: Riley Reiff, LT, Detroit Lions
- Technically sound as a pass protector.
- Serviceable even against elite competition like South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney.
- Good enough left tackle prospect to keep Brennan Williams (2013 third-round pick of the Texans) on the right side during their time together at UNC.
- Moves and mirrors well as a pass-blocker.
- Generally keeps his hips square and power base sturdy when balanced.
- Good kick-slide followed by athletic, choppy resetting moves.
- Appears to be a generally smart player.
- Often helps left guard pre-snap with identifications and line calls within UNC's zone-blocking scheme.
- Has shown the ability to cave 3-techniques down effectively on power calls to his side.
- Precise and clean cut-blocker on the back side of zone calls.
- Was a key part of UNC's 2012 offensive line that led the way for school records in total offense, scoring and passing yards.
- Suffered a broken leg in the 2014 Belk Bowl, the final game of his college career, and will be unable to participate in pre-NFL draft testing.
- Wastes too much motion coming out of his three-point stance in the run game.
- Shows athleticism in the feet but far too often sees his weight shift to the front of them, leading to overextension.
- Can be beaten multiple times through games by varieties of swim and jerk-rush moves when set up correctly by the pass-rusher.
- Post-snap awareness needs work and development.
- Does not keep his head up through plays.
- Does not possess great power.
- Does not have the most athletic frame.
- Already appears close to "maxed out" developmentally.
- Troubling tendency to "patty cake" instead of imposing his will on defenders.
- Seems to prefer shoving and then disengaging more than latching and driving.
- Can appear gassed through games and does not always play to the whistle.
- Got away with frequent holding in college that will not go unnoticed by NFL officials.
Personal Notes: (via UNC Athletic Department)
- His father Tim played football at Alabama.
- Would choose to play for the Indianapolis Colts if he could pick any team in the NFL.
- Favorite possession is his Xbox.
- Favorite off-day activity is Call of Duty video game.
- Would most like to guest star on Lost.
- His brother Nelson has had the biggest impact on his life.
- Nelson was a tight end at UNC and works in the new media office for the Carolina athletic department.
Hurst is a difficult tackle prospect to reconcile. On one hand, NFL evaluators will see a player who appears smart and technically sound. He's a football player from a football family. He will do well in the interview part of the draft process, which is good, because he will not have an opportunity to showcase much more thanks to the unfortunate leg injury.
On the other hand, evaluators will now see his injury stacked on top of numerous issues of power, balance and motor that cropped up in his 2013 game film. He appears to have limited upside to grow into a dominating NFL tackle.
The NFL team that drafts him will have a player who could optimistically project as a serviceable tackle with obvious versatility and brains to kick down to guard without losing a step. Hurst is likely a better NFL fit at guard anyway.
Draft Projection: 4th Round