Josh Kendall

Hayden Hurst, Lamar Jackson will be connecting 'a long time' in Baltimore

Hayden Hurst was Baltimore’s top pick in Thursday night’s first round of the NFL draft, but the former South Carolina tight end wasn’t the biggest name introduced to Ravens fans on Friday.

Hurst appeared with fellow Baltimore first-round pick Lamar Jackson at a news conference Friday afternoon. The first four questions were directed to Jackson, and the first question Hurst received was about Jackson.

“It’s a little bizarre,” Hurst said, “but he’s a dynamic player. He’s done it on the field. He deserves the recognition.”

Hurst was picked with the 25th overall selection in the draft, becoming the first Gamecock taken in the first round since 2014 and the first offensive player from USC taken in the first round since Troy Williamson in 2007.

Jackson was taken seven picks later at No. 32 overall, the final pick of the first round. Jackson, the former Louisville quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy in 2016, was a polarizing figure in the draft because some analysts believe he was the best quarterback prospect while others believe his skillset won’t fit in the professional game. He was the fifth quarterback taken in the first round, behind Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Josh Rosen.

“I got my tight end right here,” Jackson said of Hurst. “He’s nice. I’ve watched the highlights.”

“I have watched his tape as much as he’s watched mine, and I couldn’t be happier to be in the same organization,” Hurst said. “I saw them pick Lamar and just to know that he is going to be throwing me passes for the next however many years … He’s a dynamic player. I’m a dynamic player as well. That connection is going to be going on for a long time. It’s a great combination.”

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Tight end Hayden Hurst, one of the Baltimore Ravens' first-round draft picks, waits to participate in a television interview following an NFL football news conference at the team's headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., Friday, April 27, 2018. Patrick Semansky AP

Hurst has not signed a contract yet with the Ravens, but the NFL’s salary structure for rookies means it will be in the neighborhood of $11.2 million for four years with a team option for a fifth year and a $6.2 million signing bonus.

Baltimore director of college scouting Joe Hortiz told BaltimoreRavens.com that the team was drawn to Hurst’s versatility.

“He’s a good blocker, obviously, the way they use him, but his athleticism as a receiver and then his hands, he just doesn’t drop the ball and he makes some spectacular catches,” Hortiz said. “He can run after the catch. So, he’s just a versatile and talented athlete who can help us in pretty much all phases of our game.”

The Ravens currently have two tight ends on the roster in Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams. In 2017, Boyle and Williams combined for 43 catches for 289 yards and one touchdown.

On Friday, the Ravens released the audio of the call in which Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome informed Hurst of the draft pick.

“From the first time I saw you on tape I said, this is a guy who can help our football team,” Newsome told Hurst.

Newsome was an All-American at Alabama and made the pro football Hall of Fame after playing tight end for the Cleveland Browns.

“It’s a perfect fit. I couldn’t be happier,” Hurst told Newsome. “You got your guy. You got the best tight end, and I’m going to come in and prove it.”

Hurst was the first tight end selected this year. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh then got on the phone with Hurst.

“We have a spot for you in the offense, it’s wide open,” he said. “We’re going to take that position and turn it into the best in the league with you. You’re a perfect fit for us. You know it, right?”

Baltimore tight ends coach Greg Roman appeared with Hurst at Friday's news conference.

"Really, from the moment we turned on the tape, we saw a multidimensional athlete who has exceptional hands, quickness and speed. His makeup is that of a Raven. He’s a tough, competitive guy who can make plays. He’s got a lot of those intangibles that are hard to coach. What Hayden brings is a unique ability to find separation in the passing game, catch the ball away from his body. He’s a player who is really going to complement what we have in terms of his flexibility. He might line up anywhere on the field this year. He provides that kind of flexibility for us. We will see where it goes and how it grows."

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