The Baltimore Ravens are placing a heavy emphasis on the tight end position this year as they turn their focus to the run game, and they have made their investments in that area. They drafted Hayden Hurst in the first round in 2018 and then Mark Andrews in the third. This offseason, they signed Nick Boyle to a significant contract.
Hurst, as the first-round pick, however, is supposed to be their top player at the position—otherwise they wouldn’t have drafted him there. The only problem is that he didn’t get a lot of opportunities to play as a rookie because of a foot fracture.
That injury only kept him out of the first month of the season, but it continued to affect him throughout the year, and with no need to push the issue, with Andrews, Boyle, and Maxx Williams already holding down the position, there was no rush to force it with Hurst. He played sparingly, and caught 13 passes for 163 yards with one touchdown.
But he expects far more for himself in year two, and hopes to avoid the injury misfortunes of last year. He expects to play at around 260 pounds this year, including 15 more pounds of muscle, which he believes will help to keep him healthier and will help him on the field.
“I wanted to get stronger because I felt like I was getting pushed around a little bit at 247”, he said in a radio interview on 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore. “I put on about 15 pounds, and I’m ready to go”. He said that he did play at around the 260-pound weight in college, so he will be going back to that.
“I just feel strong. When I’m in and out of cuts and guys are on me at the top of my routes, I’m able to get separation better”, he said. “Obviously I’m able to hold the point of attack better in blocking and stuff, so that’s going to be fun. I’m just excited. It’s gonna be a really good year”.
Under Greg Roman’s offense with Lamar Jackson at the helm, Hurst’s blocking ability may well prove to be as important as his receiving ability, at least initially as Jackson continues to develop into a more developed passer.
The Ravens plan to run the ball a lot this year, using free agent addition Mark Ingram and last year’s late-season breakout success, former college free agent Gus Edwards. Jackson himself will continue to be a part of the run game, but it is not expected to be at nearly the per-game pace that he was seeing—averaging about 17 carries per start over the final seven weeks.