About the only time University of Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst found himself under the radar the past year was when he was moonlighting as an Uber driver in Ann Arbor, Mich.
"Being an Uber driver in Ann Arbor is pretty interesting," Hurst said in an interview on the Big 10 Network. "You see some big-time fans that will notice you. You see some guys who don't really notice you and they’ll talk a little trash if you lost a game, tell you your quarterback needs to change, your running back needs to change. But it's just interesting. It's a fun experience for me."
Hurst's stature is on the rise entering the 2018 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-2, 280-pounder is considered the top penetrating defensive tackle available after a senior season that saw him earn All-America honors.
Hurst would be a logical target for the Buffalo Bills if they keep the 21st and 22nd overall picks – and if he lasts that long. Hurst would be an ideal heir apparent to Kyle Williams at the 3-technique defensive tackle position.
"In today’s NFL, you’ve got to get after the quarterback and be disruptive," said ESPN analyst Mel Kiper on a national conference call. "That’s what Maurice Hurst is. For Buffalo, you don't have Marcell Dareus anymore. Kyle Williams is a free agent. So you look at it, and that's a need area for the Buffalo Bills."
It's possible Hurst could be taken a little higher than 21. He figures to help himself at the NFL Scouting Combine in two weeks because his athleticism should be on display in testing drills and his high character will be evidenced in interviews with scouts.
Hurst is smaller than the prototype defensive tackle. But his quickness has drawn comparisons with Tampa Bay star Gerald McCoy, a 6-4, 295-pounder, and Cincinnati star Geno Atkins, who was 6-1, 293 coming out of college.
Hurst did not start until his senior year. As a junior, he saw significant rotation duty behind two defensive tackles (Chris Wormley and Ryan Glasgow), who were drafted in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, in 2017. Hurst produced 4.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss as a junior and considered coming out of college early.
He went back to Michigan as a fifth-year senior and dominated. Hurst had 5.5 sacks, 14.5 tackles for loss and 61 tackles overall. Pro Football Focus gave him the top rating of any player at any position in 2017, just slightly ahead of Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.
"If you look at all the defensive tackles’ production, his was better than just about anybody in terms of getting behind the line of scrimmage, tackles for loss sacks and harassing quarterbacks," Kiper said. "I think for a 3-technique, disruptor, quick off the ball, he's the kind of guy for Buffalo and teams look for, a disruptor. They're hard to find."
Hurst arguably helped himself in the eyes of NFL scouts by opting to play in the Wolverines' Outback Bowl game vs. South Carolina. He had considered sitting out to avoid risk of an injury.
"I've never really been one to back down from any football competition," Hurst told reporters before the game. "So I think it's just another opportunity for me to get to play and get to display my skills."
Hurst also gets high marks as one of Michigan's team leaders. He was a four-time Academic All-Big 10 selection. He graduated with a degree in sport management and has begun work on a master's degree in social work.
"You can't say enough good things about Mo," Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Mo Hurst, there's the output of a guy who's an experienced, a mature player, a talented player, in his fifth year. ... He's one of the best players in the Big 10, he's one of the best players in the country. ... And he sets a great example. Our younger guys just have to look and say there's Mo Hurst, that’s how he does it, look how he works every day."