Mike Garafolo Predicts Falcons TE Hayden Hurst to Have Record Year

Hayden Hurst

Getty Hayden Hurst #81 of the Baltimore Ravens hurdles Joe Haden #23 of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

32 NFL teams, 1,696 active players to choose from and NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo picks Atlanta Falcons tight end, Hayden Hurst, to have the biggest breakout season out of any other player in the league.

On Thursday, Nate Burleson and Mike Garafolo had a quick debate on whether or not Atlanta wide receiver Calvin Ridley would be the breakout player in 2020.

Burleson believed Ridley has all of the potential to ball out while Garafolo went with Hurst.

“So, I have the entire NFL to pick from to counter your argument here, I don’t need the other 31. I am staying with the Falcons, Garafolo said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. I am going with Hayden Hurst, tight end who came in from Baltimore where they really didn’t get to use his skillset, maybe the way they had initially imagined. And I am so glad we are showing this play right now because on this play Hayden Hurst was clocked at 20.5 MPH. This was week 14. The fastest of any Ravens player to that point in the season. We know that there’s a lot of fast players on the Ravens.

“So, Matt Ryan saying this guy is going to be a matchup nightmare, finally going to have his skillset utilized, breakout for Hayden Hurst.”

Matt Ryan Calls Hayden Hurst a Mismatch Problem

Over quarantine, Hurst drove five hours daily for a few weeks just to catch passes from his new quarterback, Matt Ryan.

Ryan caught a glimpse of what to expect from Hurst this season and it’s safe to say he’s impressed:

“He is for sure one of the fastest and most athletic tight ends I’ve ever played with,” Ryan said on Tuesday during a local media conference. “He’s a mismatch problem, he’s going to create separation and win in different ways than those guys did.”

Ryan also praised Hurst for his work ethic and attitude.

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A Tight End Friendly Offense

Unlike in Baltimore, Hurst is joining a tight end friendly offense under Falcons’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter.

In two seasons with the Ravens, Hurst has caught 43 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns. He earned a 72.4 grade from Pro Football Focus last season which landed him at No. 14 among all NFL tight ends.

With Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley drawing most of the attention from the opposing defense, Hurst will likely be open for passes. He will have plenty of chances to make some plays and hopefully, snag some interceptions.

Hurst Knows His Strengths

It’s a good thing when players know their strengths because it means they’re confident and when they’re confident, they play better.

Hurst is excited to show off his speed on the field this season and his versatility at the tight end position.

“Being 6-foot-5, 265 pounds, and being able to run the way I do puts a lot of stress on linebackers and safeties,” Hurst said when he joined Atlanta in March. “I think I’m able to stretch the field vertically really well. I’m so excited for the opportunity, I think it’s going to be awesome for my skillset.”

Hurst potentially being Ryan’s go-to guy this season makes sense as to why Garafolo predicts the well-rounded tight end to have the biggest breakout year in 2020.

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