Right now, I'm in the midst of writing up my own analysis of the top 10 list posted on NESN of potential first round draft picks with #8 coming up soon. However, I thought I should add a name from my own personal list as an honorable mention. This post is talking purely about SMU DE Margus Hunt.
Margus Hunt, DE, SMU, #92
- HT: 6'8 1/8"
- WT: 277 lbs
- Arm length: 33 3/4"
- Hand length: 10"
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.60s
- 10-Yard Split: 1.62s
- Vertical: 34.5"
- Broad Jump: 10'1"
- Bench Press: 38 (best in the entire combine)
Draft Profile Links:
- CBS Sports
- NFL Draft Scout
- Combine interview with NFL.com
- Senior Bowl Snapshot
- Profile Video
- SMU Profile Page
- Freak List (#1)
Hunt is arguably the most athletic freak in this year's draft class. Born in Estonia, he was junior shot put and discus champion, winning gold medals at the World Junior Championship. In 2007, Hunt went to the US to try and further his track career. As we can clearly see, Hunt offers a super rare height, length, and speed combo. Hunt features an 82" wingspan, which he uses to gain leverage on offensive lineman and drive them back towards the football. Initially recruited by SMU to try and revive their track program, Hunt ended up walking onto the football team and later starred as a DE. He has a knack for blocking kicks, as he rejected 17 kicks which was two short of the NCAA record. Hunt just recently came off a strong combine performance where he wowed people with his bench press and 40-yard dash numbers.
- Tall, muscular frame
- Excellent straight-line speed
- 34" arms plus 35" vertical helps when trying to swat passes and block kicks
- Shows up big in bowl games
- Shows decent cover skills
- 3-4 and 4-3 versatility
- Effective rusher from the edge and the interior as well
- Good strength and burst off the line on the snap
- When he gains leverage, he is virtually unblockable and can break double teams
- Inconsistent pad level
- Can lose leverage because he plays with a high pad level at times
- Plays stiff at times and does not have a quick change in direction, which allows faster QBs to slip past him on the edge
- Is older than most NFL prospects (will be 26 by the time training camp starts)
- No clearly defined position at the NFL level (4-3 DE, 3-4 DE, 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DT?)
- Not a very solid tackler
- Bowl Game vs. Pitt
- vs. TCU (2012)
- Bowl Game vs. Fresno State
- vs. Texas A&M (2011)
- Ultimate Highlights
Stats: 2012- 31 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 1 INT, 1 STFY, 2 PDs
Margus Hunt is simply a freak of nature. At 6'8" 277, he benched 225 lbs 38 times and ran a 4.60 40. I know most people should not put a lot of stock into those two numbers, but those are simply unreal. Hunt came into the US as a phenomenal track athlete with no football knowledge or skills outside of a video game. Hunt does not possess the arm length nor jump as well as JJ Watt, but offers the same range of reach when it comes to blocking kicks and swatting passes. At 277 lbs, he is undersized for a typical 3-4 2-gapping DE but that is irrelevant since the Patriots play over 55% of their snaps in their nickel and dime packages. Hunt offers the ability to rush the passer on the edge and the interior, which would allow Head Coach Bill Belichick and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia to develop creative packages. One underrated ability that no one talks about is that Hunt can cover in zones over the middle, which could allow creative play calling for zone exchanges (blitz a LB or DB and drop a DL into coverage) to further confuse the QB. Hunt would project as the strong side defensive end (LDE) in their base defense in both 4-3 and 3-4 and would kick it inside for sub packages next to Wilfork. However, this either takes away snaps from Ninkovich (who had a breakout 2012 season) or Hightower (who IMO is the team's most talented LB). Hunt's main competition is fellow rookie Armond Armstead, who like Hunt played LDE at the collegiate level (USC), 4th year player Jermaine Cunningham who has been a disappointment since being drafted 53rd overall in 2010, 2nd year player Justin Francis who was very effective in a small sample size, and 2nd year player Jake Bequette who was essentially red-shirted for 2012. Hunt, while freakishly athletic, comes with risks. He will be 26 when training camp opens in late July, which could be a problem for some teams. That should not be a problem since the Patriots took Sebastian Vollmer in the 2nd round even though Vollmer was entering his age 25 season as a rookie. Hunt is going to have to work on playing with a consistent pad level and not so upright. Those problems should be fixed as he gains experience at the NFL level, and with long time DL coach (now LB coach) Pepper Johnson still in the fold could help develop Hunt into a very solid DE.
Personal Grade: As early as #25 and as late as #59 (1st-2nd rd)