The Atlanta Falcons may have lost Austin Hooper in free agency to the Cleveland Browns, but his replacement is receiving a lot of positive attention.
Matt Ryan has been making an effort to get some work in with his receivers during this unusual offseason, including tight end Hayden Hurst. Ryan boasted about Hurst during a zoom conference on Tuesday.
“I’ve been incredibly impressed with Hayden’s work ethic,” Ryan said. “He’s got great speed, great athleticism. Wants to be a great player … the effort, the attitude all of that stuff is there. He fits in well with the group of guys we have.”
Hurst Drove Five Hours Daily to Catch Passes
Jacksonville is Hurst’s hometown and it takes approximately 4 hours and 53 minutes to get to Atlanta. Factor in the traffic and you’ve easily hit the five-hour mark.
“That’s helping me a lot…that’s really going to pay off during training camp,” Hurst said to ESPN.
Hayden’s efforts were definitely beneficial for both of them.
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Falcons Trade For Hurst
The Falcons traded one of their second-round picks (No. 55 overall) and their fifth-round pick (No. 157 overall) in the 2020 NFL Draft. In return, they received Hurst and the Ravens’ fourth-round pick (No. 134 overall) in this year’s draft in return.
Before entering the league, Hurst had intentions of making it further in the MLB, but a change of direction led him to be selected in the 2018 NFL draft in the first round.
Originally a walk-on at South Carolina University, Hurst ended up receiving a scholarship and set the school single-season record for receptions by a tight end with 48.
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.
Hurst is joining a tight-end friendly offense with Dirk Koetter and will have plenty of chances to make some plays and hopefully interceptions.
A Mismatch Problem
After the Falcons signed Hurst, he shared his thoughts on what it’s going to be like already joining a loaded offense.
“I guess it’s just picking your poison, Hurst said. You can’t double up. You’re gonna have to man people up. You’re gonna have to guard us. And it’s like I said, pick your poison. You have Todd in the backfield, you have Julio and Calvin on the outside, and then me doing my thing in the middle of the field. I’m really excited to get up there and start playing because I just think great things are going to come out of it.”
Ryan can certainly agree that “great things” will come out of Hurst this season after catching a glimpse of his athleticism.
“He is for sure one of the fastest and most athletic tight ends I’ve ever played with,” Ryan said. “He’s a mismatch problem, he’s going to create separation and win in different ways than those guys did.”