James Hurst   OT   North Carolina


James has the body type, athletic talent, strength, football intelligence and techniques you are always looking to replace on your offensive line, but you just can’t ever find anyone who can play his position better than he can. He reminds me a lot of the Giants multi-talented offensive lineman David Diehl. He has excellent mental stamina and seems to understand what is needed to get the job done. He is a leader through his play on the field and in this draft might be the most consistent offensive lineman. He is quick out of his stance and has good foot movement once he engages when pass blocking or run blocking. He has enough lateral agility to play Left Tackle in the right system. James possesses the football intelligence and moxie to play more than one position for you on your offensive line. James understand the angles that defensive linemen have to take to get to his QB quickly and defends those angles quickly. He uses his hands to keep players away from his body and his foot speed to recover if he gets beat, allowing his QB to slide away from pressure. He is very underrated because James has good talent, but not great talent. The problem is that James plays better than his talent and his workouts, which some people might not understand.

James was injured in the Belk Bowl in December. If he can’t work out or his workouts are no up to par, it’s really a guess as to what round he will be drafted in. He has to get a lot stronger in his upper body and of course he needs more work on techniques, etc, but this kid is a solid offensive lineman and will be for a very long time.

James is the type of player that no one notices when he plays, but when the game is done, he grades out as one of the highest offensive linemen in the game. He is the type of player that gives up one sack in a game and the coaches are looking to replace him until they grade out the offensive line and he grades out the highest. There is nothing in his play that makes you go “wow”, but he gets the job more than done without all the fanfare. He is not going to make the great block because he is always making the right block. He is adept at understanding angles and it’s hard for a defensive lineman to set this kid up for the big play because he takes nothing for granted and doesn’t try to guess what his opponent is about to do. When a “big time talked about” defensive lineman doesn’t come close to sacking or getting any tackles in the backfield, James is the type of player who never gets credit for doing that. All the experts talk about is what was wrong with his opponent and not what a great job James did shutting his opponent out. That’s because James doesn’t “look like” he could do what he does. If James can work out, he could easily jump up into the late part of the 1st round. The problem will be once James works out there will not be a consensus of what position James can play at the next level and this lack of consensus will move him into the later rounds. He may be once again overlooked. I think James is the type of player you draft and worry about his position later. I know his workouts will not be great. I know his workouts will slot him as a right tackle or maybe a guard, but because of a lack of quickness, or arm length, or pure lateral agility or just about any workout number you can think of that will make the scouts and GM’s and head coaches all kind of scratch their heads wondering how James fits into their system. I believe if you put James on the field at any offensive line position that he will be an excellent offensive lineman for a very long time. And, isn’t that what the draft is all about?

Drew Boylhart