The Cleveland Browns had one of the best offseasons in the league via NFL free agency, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The likes of Dalvin Tomlinson alongside Juan Thornhill, Za’Darius Smith (trade acquisition), and Ogbo Okoronkwo have gotten most of the spotlight, but Maurice Hurst has quietly been a star as well.
He’s played a fairly large role so far for this defense as a gap-shooting 3-technique, as well as lining up at 1-technique in obvious passing-down situations.
He’s been a wrecking ball inside when paired with Myles Garrett or Za’Darius Smith in Cleveland’s version of their “Nascar” or “Cheetah” package. He’s the type of player who may not get tons of sacks, but he’s consistently going to alter plays in the backfield and pressure the quarterback.
PFF Grade: 88.5 (7th highest amongst NFL Defensive Tackles)
Snaps: 107 (39%)
#Browns DT Maurice Hurst is the total package in terms of his penetration ability against both the run and pass.— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) October 20, 2023
This rep defines him as a player. If you aren’t 100% locked onto him as an offensive lineman, you’re not going to stop him. #DawgPound
The Browns signed Hurst because of Jim Schwartz’s ability to amplify the talent of his defensive line unit. He has utilized the defensive tackle perfectly so far, especially on passing downs. Schwartz has done a great job of finding ways to get Hurst in 1-on-1 blocking situations with offensive linemen, which usually results in a “plus” matchup for the defense.
Hurst is the epitome of a technician when it comes to both hand placement and hand fighting, as well as the synchronization of his upper and lower body upon contact. This is an important trait because it allows him to stack different rush moves because his feet and lower body are always moving.
Mo Hurst is an absolute technician with his hands.— Matt Wilson (@CoachWilson66) October 20, 2023
His snatch/swim move has been extremely difficult for offensive linemen to counter, due to his outstanding hand placement on the breastplate or armpit. He’s routinely able to control the blocker upon initial contact which allows him to dictate the situation despite him being “only” 290 pounds.
As long as “Big Mo” stays healthy for Cleveland, he’s going to continue to be an integral piece in the NFL’s top-ranked defensive unit going forward.
How surprised are you at Hurst’s success with the Browns?