Ravens officially ink first-round pick Hurst to rookie deal

June 20, 2018 | Luke Jones

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class under contract a month before the start of training camp.

First-round tight end Hayden Hurst became the 12th and final Baltimore draft pick to come to terms, officially signing a four-year deal expected to pay him just over $11 million. Contracts for first-round picks also include a fifth-year team option, meaning the Ravens could own the rights to the South Carolina product through the 2022 season.

Hurst, 24, caught a combined 92 passes for 1,175 yards and three touchdowns over his final two seasons for the Gamecocks and was regarded as having some of the most reliable hands in the draft class. He and third-round pick Mark Andrews will be asked to bring play-making ability to the tight end position since incumbents Nick Boyle and Maxx Williams combined for just 43 catches last season and are considered stronger blockers than receivers.

Hurst will need to buck a long history of even some of the most successful NFL tight ends struggling to make a major impact as rookies, but early reviews have been positive.

“He’s just a talented guy. It matters to him. I’m excited about he and Mark,” head coach John Harbaugh said last month. “The tight ends have a lot of football on their plate. The biggest challenge that they have is to not think their way through the play. That’s always going to be the toughest thing when you have so many options as a tight end because you’re both in the run game and the pass game and the pass protection.”

One of the criticisms of Hurst during the pre-draft process was his age as he will turn 25 in August and previously played minor league baseball for Pittsburgh, leaving some pundits to suggest he has a lower NFL ceiling. However, one could argue that the 6-foot-4, 250-pound tight end is more physically mature than the typical 21- or 22-year-old rookie and better equipped to deal with failure after his well-documented experiences with his baseball career, factors that could lead to more success early in his career.

That maturity will play a role in how Hurst plans to spend his signing bonus at the very least.

“Since this is my second go-round, there’s not much that I need,” said Hurst, who signed for $400,000 as the 17th-round pick of the Pirates in 2012. “I knocked that out the first time. I got a car, so nothing really comes to mind. I’ll probably just put it all away.”