Late for Work 2/25: Should Ravens Consider Trading Hayden Hurst?

TE Hayden Hursts breaks free in an NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium.
TE Hayden Hursts breaks free in an NFL game at M&T Bank Stadium.

Should Ravens Consider Trading Hayden Hurst?

The New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars reportedly have inquired about trading for Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst prior to the draft.

Whether the Ravens have any interest in dealing the 2018 first-round pick remains to be seen, but it makes sense that teams looking for an upgrade at tight end would have interest in Hurst.

In commenting about the report, which came from The Florida Times-Union sports columnist Eugene Frenette, The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec said he doesn't think the Ravens are motivated to deal Hurst.

"Teams have been inquiring about him since before [the] trade deadline. That's part of it," Zrebiec wrote via Twitter. "I don't think they're shopping Hurst. Teams have interest in him. And given Hurst has essentially been the team's No. 3 [tight end], I'm sure teams think he can be had for a modest return.

"Just my opinion, but I'd think if they were to trade him, they'd have to get a significant offer. So what's that? A second-rounder? A third plus a Day 3 pick? Not sure."

It's not the first time Hurst, a Jacksonville native, has been linked to the Jaguars. This past September, Frenette reported that Hurst was part of a package the Ravens offered for Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

As for the Patriots, their production at tight end drastically fell off last year without Rob Gronkowski, who retired before the start of the season.

Tight ends played a major role in the Ravens' No. 1-scoring offense this past season, and while Hurst was listed third on the depth chart behind Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle, he still was an important contributor.

Hurst, 26, had a 77-percent catch percentage (first on the team among non-running backs) and his 349 receiving yards were third on the team. He also made essential contributions as a blocker and in clutch situations.

When Andrews was sidelined by a knee injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14, Hurst stepped up. His 61-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter helped the Ravens pull away.

In looking at the pros and cons of trading Hurst, Ebony Bird's Norman Getsinger wrote that breaking up the three-headed monster at tight end might not be a good idea.

"All of the tight ends can block, catch passes and get yards after the catch," Getsinger wrote. "Hurst, in particular, was a very sure-handed tight end that Lamar Jackson could rely on in clutch moments. … Letting go of an important piece of the offense could slow it down a little bit."

On the other hand, Getsinger said the Ravens should at least consider a trade for Hurst if the offer is significant.

"Though the Ravens are more than likely not going to get a first-round pick if they decide to trade him, they could get a second- and fifth-round pick, which would be a great haul," Getsinger wrote.

Orlando Brown Jr. Reflects on Poor Combine -- Again

With the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis upon us, it's no surprise Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. is getting interview requests from the media. The same thing happened at this time last year.

The subject matter, of course, is Brown's disastrous performance at the Combine two years ago. It's not a topic he shiesaway from.

"For me personally, I know that I had the worst combine in NFL history," Brown told The Athletic's Zrebiec. "At the end of the day, I knew that it didn't necessarily define me as a football player or define me as a person. I've never been somebody who runs fast or jumps high or does much in the weight room. But I'm always getting stronger and getting better.

"I don't mind talking about it because it's something that I think people need to hear more often about, more so than the negatives that people pay attention to. This doesn't necessarily define guys as football players."

That's certainly true in regard to Brown, a projected first-round pick who fell to the third round after his Combine performance.

He ran the 40-yard dash in 5.85 seconds – the slowest of any player at the event. He posted just 14 reps on the bench press. His vertical jump (19.5 inches) and broad jump (82 inches) were also dead last among all prospects.

Brown, 6-feet-8 and 345 pounds, responded by working hard on his body and conditioning. He became a starter his rookie season and made the Pro Bowl in his second. Only one of the 15 offensive linemen drafted ahead of him in 2018 — Colts guard Quenton Nelson, the sixth overall pick — has made the Pro Bowl, Zrebiec noted.

"It did take me a while to get over it. … At the end of the day, I'm glad it happened," Brown said. "It put me in Baltimore in a great situation, with a great organization and a great team. My dad was really big on everything happens for a reason. As much as I hate to say it, although I probably shorted myself $20-something million, at the end of the day, I don't regret it at all. I'm glad I ended up in Baltimore."

Four Takeaways From 2019 Season

Six weeks removed from the Ravens' playoff loss, Baltimore Beatdown's Kevin Oestreicher took a fresh look at the team's 2019 season. Here are excerpts from his four takeaways:

Lamar Jackson is the real deal.

"He has everything the team needs and wants in a franchise quarterback, and he hasn't even hit his ceiling yet. He has a bright future, both on and off the field."

General Manager Eric DeCosta is a worthy successor to Ozzie Newsome.

"DeCosta nailed his first draft, drafting wide receiver Marquise Brown in the first round and nabbing falling talent like linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and wide receiver Miles Boykin. In free agency, DeCosta used his cap space to sign Earl Thomas to upgrade at free safety. He also had arguably the biggest steal of the offseason signing running back Mark Ingram to a [reported] three year, $15 million dollar deal.

"DeCosta didn't just make moves in the offseason but quickly assessed holes in the roster and signed key contributors in the middle of the season. … DeCosta's best work came during a regular-season trade for cornerback Marcus Peters. The Ravens sent struggling linebacker Kenny Young and a fifth-round pick to the Los Angeles Rams for Peters, eventually signing the All-Pro cornerback to a three-year extension later in the season."

The Ravens can handle adversity.

"Starting before the regular season even began, Baltimore lost starting slot cornerback Tavon Young. Fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith went down just six snaps into Week 1. Rookie wide receiver Marquise Brown missed a great deal of training camp with a foot injury and never really hit 100 percent all season long. Baltimore also had a very difficult schedule, facing six of the 11 other playoff teams in the regular season and going 5-1 against that group. … The Ravens had a target on their back throughout the entire season. After their 59-10 win over the Miami Dolphins [in Week 1], they were immediately identified as a threat and were put under a microscope."

There's still room for improvement for a team that went 14-2.

"The 2019 season was supposed to be the stepping stone. For as good as they were last season, they haven't even hit their ceiling yet — and that's before adding any new players. … The Ravens have some cap space and draft capital to get better this offseason while seeing improvement in individual young players."

Ravens Select Linebacker, Wide Receiver in Latest Mock Drafts

The Athletic put together its first mock draft and provided analysis from its NFL beat writers and college football staff.

Zrebiec selected LSU linebacker Patrick Queen for the Ravens with the 28th-overall selection. Queen has been mocked to the Ravens in other drafts, including those by ESPN's Mel Kiper.

"Queen brings the speed and athleticism that the Ravens need in the middle of the field," Zrebiec wrote. "He's also a very good blitzer. He'd be a great addition to a Ravens team that needs to revamp its defensive front seven this offseason."

The Athletic's LSU beat writer Brody Miller wrote: "His strengths come out most when an opponent tries to rely on screens and Queen can hit a beeline and beat star backs like Clemson's Travis Etienne in a foot race. He needed to work on his run fits, but we saw those improve throughout the season. He has work to do, but he's a smart, high-character linebacker with speed and instincts you can't teach."

In Pro Football Focus' latest mock draft, the Ravens picked Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

"Just because the Ravens already have absurd athletes like Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown doesn't mean the team should turn their heads away from another at pick No. 28 in April's draft," PFF's Austin Gayle wrote. "Aiyuk flashed explosive athletic ability before and after the catch with the Sun Devils this past season and averaged over 10 yards after the catch per reception in the process."

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