The Chicago Bears didn't draft any corner backs, but that doesn't mean they aren't bringing any rookie CBs to their off season workouts. Earlier today we brought you our Q&A from the N.C. State SB Nation site Backing The Pack, about former Wolfpack, and undrafted free agent pick up C.J. Wilson.
Windy City Gridiron - One of the scouting reports I read on Hurst said he would best suited to play at nickle in the NFL, did he have any experience with that at Oklahoma, or was he always playing outside?
Crimson and Cream Machine - He might have played some nickel during his true freshman season, but it would have been minimal at best. Starting with his sophomore season, he became one of Oklahoma's starting cornerbacks and held that position for the next three years. In doing so, he played primarily on the outside. For most of his collegiate career, Hurst was regarded as one of the top defensive backs in the Big 12 and would routinely draw the assignment of the opposing team's top receiving threat. His lack of experience in covering the slot was 100% a product of Oklahoma's defensive scheme rather than an inability to do so.
WCG - If he does end up making the Bears, nickle back will most likely be his initial home, how was Hurst in run support and as a blitzer?
CACM - This is a bit of a tricky question, at least in terms of my response and how your readers may interpret it. When I tell you that Hurst wasn't really asked to blitz much or provide a ton of help in run support it would be easy to assume it to be a weakness of his. Which, in my opinion, really isn't the case. It was much more a product of Oklahoma's defensive scheme and what they asked their corners to do.
With respect to his ability to help in run support, I would describe him as an active and willing participant. He isn't overly big at 5'10" (which is probably a tad generous) 180 (ish) pounds, but he's intelligent in the way that he attacks the ball carrier. At his size, he tends to take on the ball carrier low but I think it would be more than fair to label him an above average tackler.
WCG - The Bears will probably still play more zone than man to man in 2013, how was Hurst in zone coverage?
CACM - Hurst played primarily zone coverage for his first three years while the Oklahoma defense was under the leadership of now former defensive coordinator, Brent Venables. There was a lot of the 'Tampa 2' type coverages being employed by the Sooners and Hurst seemed to be suited quite well for it. Oklahoma switched to a much more man-to-man heavy scheme this past season, but Hurst made the transition quite smoothly. He has proved to be successful in either, but at the NFL level I believe zone coverage will play more to his strengths.
I called him intelligent above and for good reason as I'll try and illustrate my point in this highlight (from You Tube) of one of his two career interceptions. If you can see it towards the top of your screen, Hurst actually reads the quarterback in trouble, leaves the guy he was covering while anticipating where the quarterback is going with the ball, and steps in front for the pick six.
Admittedly, it's one play over the course of a four year career but not everybody recognizes that and/or makes the adjustment in time to put himself in position to even make that play.
WCG - Hurst only had two interceptions in four years of college ball, was this a case of just not having many opportunities for picks, or does he have bad hands?
CACM - Well, you know what they say about why guys are playing defensive back and not wide receiver. All joking aside, I would attribute his lack of interceptions much more so to a lack of balls thrown his way than bad hands. In the college game, and perhaps more importantly in a pass-happy Big 12 Conference, he was about as close as it came to shutting down his side of the field. Teams simply chose to attack the other side or throw underneath rather than challenge him. That changed somewhat this past season with the emergence of Aaron Colvin (a guy who could be a 1st round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft), but even then it wasn't like teams started picking on Hurst.
In my opinion, he was a guy who never really got the kind of credit he deserved for being as good as he was because opponents chose to throw at him so infrequently.
WCG - He showed good speed at his pro day, running a 4.47 forty, scouts like his physicality and his effort, do you think he has a future in the NFL?
CACM - To be honest, that was a better time than I thought he was capable of running. At the time, I was a little surprised he wasn't invited to the combine given he was pretty well regarded throughout the Big 12 and was a three year starter. But to your original point, I do like his chances at a future in the NFL. As I've said a number of times now, he's a smart football player and we've had countless players like that who may not have the 'prototypical size', yet can still be successful.
There is something to be said for a guy like Hurst to come in to a program like Oklahoma, play as a true freshman, and then start for his next three years. I think his ability to play on the outside or over the slot is certainly an asset. I'm also confident he would be a more than capable special teams player, which only increases his chances of sticking in the league. Obviously he'll be facing an uphill battle (as do all undrafted free agents), but he is a guy I believe potentially capable of defying the long odds and making a roster.
Thanks again to the guys over at Crimson And Cream Machine for the analysis!
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