Flight 5′s Path to the Draft: Player Spotlight — MARGUS HUNT

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New York Jets coach Rex Ryan works out Margus Hunt at SMU’s pro day. Hands on training! (Rob Graham)

By Nick Spano (@NickSpano)

The Flight 5 “Path to the Draft” train steamrolls ahead to the second round and stops off at Southern Methodist’s DE Margus Hunt’s pro day. Hunt is skyrocketing up draft boards and could possibly be a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, since his crazy good combine.

Hunt, who had had eight sacks and an interception in 2012 for the Mustangs, is your prototypical 3/4 or 4/3 “outside” defensive end, similar to our own Muhammad Wilkerson. Hunt has stated that the thought of him standing up in a 3-4 defense at rush linebacker is so far off his radar, that even the mere thought is laughable. That is of course, until Rex Ryan came to town. At SMU’s Pro Day last Wednesday, Jets coach Rex Ryan, owner of a 3/4 defense in New York, ran Hunt through drills from the outside linebacker spot — a twist that reportedly caught Hunt quite off guard.

Hunt amassed 31 tackles, eight sacks, 11.5 tackles for a loss, one interception, two forced fumbles, two passes batted and three blocked kicks in 2012. He had a tremendous bowl game to cap off a career that featured 17 blocked kicks. Hunt recorded all three of his sacks for 2011 in SMU’s bowl game against Pittsburgh. He had 28 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss in 2011, too.

Margus Hunt, Defensive Lineman, Southern Methodist Mustangs

  • CLASS STANDING: Senior
  • HEIGHT: 6’8″ ft
  • WEIGHT: 277 LBS
  • 40 YARD DASH: 4.60 Sec
  • BENCH PRESS: 38 reps
  • VERT:  34.5 inch
  • BROAD: 121.0 inch
  • ARM LENGTH: 33 3/4″
  • NFL COMPARISON: J.J Watt (yes, I’m serious)

Collegiate Career: Margus Hunt Highlights

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

(AP Photo/LM Otero)

STRENGTH: Excelled at that five-technique spot with SMU, says he is comfortable at any spot on the line. He’s also quick to add that the Mustangs’ scheme called for the DEs to line up wide on passing downs, so “it wasn’t a brand-new feeling” when he was asked to take his position in a 4-3 at the Senior Bowl. Versatile. Long arms, strong, and fast. The “whole package” .. smart kid, willing to learn. Hardworking, quick learner. Hunt will bat down balls vs smaller quarterbacks in the NFL. A “throwing lane” Dikembe Mutombo.

WEAKNESSES: Will be 26 this year. Not too much experience in football. Doesn’t really fit the 3/4 OLB mold. Size will make it tough for him to play LB. Needs to clean up his tackling technique, using more body, and less arms.

QUOTES:

  • Margus Hunt: “I’m that kind of guy that … throw me in feet first and tell me, ‘You have to do this, have to do that. By all means, that’s how you learn, you have to take snaps, you can’t sit around and wait for that opportunity. I’m definitely open to whatever they throw at me.”
  • SMU’s head coach June Jones: “The first scrimmage we had … the only thing I didn’t know was if he was going to be tough enough, the first play we ran a trap and hit him real hard, and he wanted to fight. I said, ‘OK, we may have a player here. His best football is ahead of him’’
  • Margus Hunt: “If you have that kind of height, there’s a disadvantage of standing up tall way too early, looking in the backfield — you’re driven off the line of scrimmage and can’t really control the opponent, tt’s getting better, but I still have to improve a little bit.”
  • NFL Network’s Draft Analyst Mike Mayock: “There are a bunch of guys that are going to have to play various positions — one of the things about today’s defenders is their versatility, Margus Hunt … what is he? Is he a 4-3 end or a 3-4 five-technique (3-4 defensive end)?”
  • Margus Hunt: “We changed our total approach for my senior season,” said Hunt. “I went back to my original track-and-field lifting. A lot of cleans, power lifting and Olympic lifting – first and foremost. I was building up on my power. Along with extra football activities, working on pass-rush moves on the bags, whatever football drills were possible. Just getting my stamina up as well; I was running a mile before practice everyday to get the blood going and get the acrobatic work in.”

WHY THE JETS?: If the Jets can/want to switch to a 43 front, this defensive line can become the best in the NFL. Rotating Hunt and Muhammad Wilkerson at DT/DE would be scary for opposing quarterbacks. You can have 2012 first round pick Quinton Coples move up and down that DL. Kenrick Ellis, Antonio Garay, and Dame Harrison can rotate at shade tech. He brings some tough, hardworking and willingness to learn, to a Rex defense that demands exactly that. Oh and Rex Ryan went head on with Hunt at his pro day. Obviously there is interest.

WHY NOT THE JETS?: Rex Ryan is stubborn; he will die with the 34 defense. Not sure the Jets will add another Wilkerson/Coples type player, and Hunt is just too big to play OLB in the 34. Hunt is also rising up the board, so the Jets MAY have to move up to the bottom of the first or very top of the second round for him.