When the Ravens chose to use their first pick and the 25th overall selection of the NFL draft in April on Hayden Hurst, the South Carolina tight end understood that they are expecting a certain level of return on their investment.
But when the franchise maneuvered back into the first round to take Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson with the 32nd choice, much of the excitement and speculation began to hone in the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and his role in an offense headed by incumbent Joe Flacco.
Hurst acknowledged Wednesday that Jackson’s presence has partially moved the microscope from him to the dual-threat quarterback.
“During the whole process, it was kind of weird,” Hurst said. “He gets a lot of the questions, but it comes with the territory. He’s the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, and he’s a quarterback, but I don’t really have a problem with that. He takes a little bit of the pressure off of me, but the expectations for both Lamar and me are pretty high. We’re great players, and I think we’ll live up to it.”
When training camp opens Thursday at the team’s headquarters in Owings Mills, many eyes will be following Hurst’s progress. The 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end proved as advertised with his pass-catching ability and speed over the middle during minicamp, but he will be pressed to replicate that productivity against a defense that won’t be as generous as it might have been in May and June.
Hurst said he is fully aware that the Ravens are relying on him to help overhaul a passing attack that ranked 29th in the league (189.4 yards per game) last season.
“I kind of get that feeling, and I understand,” he said. “They want me to play early. But again, football is football. I’m going to learn the playbook. I have a lot of confidence in what I was able to do in college. I know the type of player I am, and I’m going to carry it over here. Once I learn the playbook and I can start playing even faster, it’s going to be exciting.”