Raiders fifth-round pick says heart condition won't impact him, 'I'm ready to go right now'


Raiders fifth-round pick says heart condition won't impact him, 'I'm ready to go right now'

ALAMEDA – Raiders rookie minicamp starts on Friday. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst says he’ll be a full participant.

The Michigan product insists a heart condition that caused the draft’s best interior pass rusher to free fall into the fifth round won’t impact his ability to play or practice or anything else that’s required of a Raider.

“I’m ready to go right now,” Hurst said in a conference call. “I’m going to show up to rookie minicamp just like everyone else, and go through things like anyone else would. …I don’t see it being a problem at all. That’s the frustrating thing.”

Hurst was bothered by the fact an irregular EKG that got him sent home from the NFL Scouting Combine and prompted many to remove him from consideration despite him being cleared to play by doctors at the University of Michigan and Harvard University.

The Raiders brought him to Alameda for an official draft visit a few weeks back, where he was medically examined. Hurst was cleared by team doctors, which gave Raiders brass confidence when selecting him. 

“The fact is, he does have a heart condition, but it is a situation where he’ll get checked every year," Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. "Right now, he’s good.”

McKenzie was asked if Hurst's status is essentially year-to-year, and whether his long-term availability is contingent on annual examinations. 

"It's something he has to go through, however you want to term it," McKenzie said. "Now that they've found out whatever this condition is, I'm not going to get into all the medical terms, all the what-ifs. He's just going to have to follow a certain deal where he gets checked just so everyone is on the same page and we all know everything. When something like that happens, to be smart is to keep getting checked."

The Silver and Black felt good about employing Hurst and traded up 19 spots to take him with the No. 140 overall selection, but...they passed on a first-round talent five times. They claimed Hurst him with their sixth pick, halfway through the fifth round. Why then? Why not before, considering his unquestioned talent? The timing obviously worked out for the Raiders, who got a blue-chip prospect 140 picks deep.  

“I’m not going to tell you my board, but we had him higher than where we took him," McKenzie said. "Let’s put it like that.” 

If Hurst plays without issue, the Raiders got a straight steal in the fifth round.

The Raiders apparently don't expect one. McKenzie said as much to the press, and head coach Jon Gruden relayed that sentiment to in a conversation with Hurst.

"We are really excited to add you to our team,” Gruden said, via a video posted on the team website. “The only reason you're in the fifth round is because people have their question marks, but we have no doubts about you."

Falling so far was still frustrating for Hurst, a top talent who lost a lot of money tumbling down the board.

“I’m upset, and disappointed in teams that decided not to pick me,” Hurst said. “One team got a great player for very little. I’m excited to be a Raider.”

Hurst is excited to join Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and third-round pick Arden Key on the defensive line. Hurst has a real chance to play three technique with the starting unit, a vital role in Paul Guenther’s defensive scheme.

“There’s a talented group there, and it’s cool because I watched Coach Gruden, I loved the Bucs and Warren Sapp was my favorite player growing up. I’m excited to be a part of the process and be a piece to the puzzle.”

He has first-round talent, but had 139 players selected before him. That will certainly fuel his fire, as will a significant smaller paycheck that other top rookies will get.

“It’s tough going into this thinking you’re one of the top players in the draft and just having to wait,” Hurst said. “You think you’re better than people that go ahead of you, and that’s tough. But I’m happy to be in a good fit, with the right organization.”

2019 Senior Bowl: Raiders should keep eye on several safety prospects


2019 Senior Bowl: Raiders should keep eye on several safety prospects

There’s talented youth at several spots in the Raiders secondary. Gareon Conley looks like the real deal, and should be a long-term solution at cornerback.

Daryl Worley’s a restricted free agent, but is expected to return. He plays the physical coverage Paul Guenther prefers, and will continue to develop at such a young age. Nick Nelson’s in the mix for a slot cornerback slot as well entering his second season, though some depth/competition’s required there.

Karl Joseph made great strides toward the end of last season, and could play an important, physical role for coaches who can play to his strengths and minimize effects of a lack of height.

A ballhawk safety’s missing from the crew. Or, even better yet, a versatile player who can man several spots as a safety.

[RELATED: Raiders defensive depth chart: Upgrades mandatory at several key spots]

That’s why the Raiders must be thrilled to have Delaware’s Nasir Adderley on the Senior Bowl’s North squad. Jon Gruden and staff are coaching that side, and will get a long look at him during the practice week.

The Raiders will keep a close eye on their safeties and some on the South side, as they try to decide whether to draft one or signed a veteran in free agency. There’s a vacancy in the secondary, and there are some top safety options at the Senior Bowl.

Will one of these guys below fill it?

Nasir Adderley, Delaware, 5-11, 200 pounds
Adderley will be watched closely during Senior Bowl week to see if his performance against big-school competition matches excellent game tape from his career at Delaware. Analysts say he has great range, plays aggressive and physical and can play everywhere including single-high safety.

He has experience playing cornerback as well and can cover most receiving positions well. He can take on blocks and tackle well, and always hustles. That sounds like a coach’s dream.

Might the Raiders find a spot for him with one of their higher picks? An early selection will be required if he impresses, as expected, during the pre-draft process.
Projected: Early rounds

Marquis Blair, Utah, 6-2, 195
This big safety can really run and shows great range in the open field, something the Raiders could use in their secondary. He’ll have to show well for Gruden’s North squad at the Senior Bowl, especially in man coverage and in making plays on the ball while playing a deep safety.

He’s an intriguing talent worth watching.
Projected: Middle rounds

Darnell Savage, Maryland, 5-11, 191
Savage is on the North squad during Senior Bowl week, and will have no problem flashing athleticism. He has that in spades. He has to show good decision making playing deep, an issue when he was at school.

He can be a heavy hitter as well, but has to show restraint at times to make a proper play over a spectacular one.
Projected: Middle rounds

There are two safeties from the 49ers’ South squad worth keep an eye on, as talents who could go higher in the draft:

Juan Thornhill, Virginia, 6-1, 195
This high IQ safety plays disciplined and smart football, which helped him collect six interceptions and seven passes defensed in 2018. He has experience playing cornerback as well, and can be versatile weapon.

His media draft evaluations vary, but the Raiders will get to see him up close at the Senior Bowl.
Projected: Early, middle rounds

Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State 6-0, 210 pounds
He’s more of an enforcer than an attractive deep safety. He is solid playing in the box, but might be a bit too close to Joseph’s skill set to draw strong interest unless the Raiders are looking for an upgrade there.
Projected: Early, iddle rounds

Marshawn Lynch responds to President Donald Trump calling him unpatriotic

Marshawn Lynch responds to President Donald Trump calling him unpatriotic

Marshawn Lynch is a man of few words.

Nothing seems to faze the Oakland native, but when he does speak up, he lets you know exactly how he feels.

The Raiders running back recently was a guest on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, and when asked about President Donald Trump calling him unpatriotic for sitting during the playing of the national anthem, Lynch had quite the response.

"I mean, you know, that motha----er say a lot of s---," Lynch said. "At the end of the day, you called me unpatriotic, but if you know me, you know you come to my neighborhood where I’m from, and you know you’ll see me take the shirt off my back and give it to someone in less need. What would you call that?”

In November 2017, Trump went on a Twitter rant calling for the NFL to suspend Lynch for the rest of the season. This is the first time Lynch has publicly responded to such comments. 

Lynch grew up in Oakland and was a star at Oakland Technical High School before attending Cal and becoming a first-round draft pick in the NFL. He signed with the Raiders before the 2017 season, and consistently has been a champion in his community with charitable works. 

He also spoke on the issues of gentrification in Oakland and how he's helped with the problem. 

"I've been a witness of it since I was a small jitterbug," Lynch said. "Now that I've grown up and I'm seeing it and I understand it a little more." 

Maher then asked Lynch what he's been doing for Oakland to resolve gentrification to make sure African-Americans aren't being kicked out of neighborhoods they have been in for years. 

"With bangin' my head against people, I had the opportunity to make a couple dollars," he said with a laugh. "So therefore I started buying some real estate in the area I grew up at in order to give people opportunity for housing." 

Lynch will become a free agent in March. It's unknown if he'll continue playing football, but what we do know is he'll always be a man of the people in Oakland.