OWINGS MILLS — Every year, the Baltimore Ravens seem to land at least one undrafted free agent that goes on to become a key contributor for them.
They got wide receiver Marlon Brown as an undrafted free agent last year. Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker as an undrafted free agent the year before. And they have had other players like running back Priest Holmes, center Mike Flynn and linebackers Bart Scott and Dannell Ellerbe.
Former North Carolina offensive tackle James Hurst may turn out to be this year’s rookie free agent success story.
If not for injury, Hurst may have gone in the first four rounds of the draft. But he suffered a broken leg in his final college game, was limited throughout the pre-draft process and ended up going undrafted.
However, he is healthy now and was among the players that stood out to Ravens coach John Harbaugh during Baltimore’s rookie minicamp this weekend.
“Hurst at the left tackle draws my attention a lot,” Harbaugh said. “He has very good feet. He seems like he’s picking it up quickly. He likes to practice. He has a heavy punch. So he has a chance.”
Hurst went to North Carolina in 2010 as one of the top-rated recruits in the country and was a four-year starter for the Tar Heels at left tackle.
He was selected second-team All-ACC as a sophomore in 2011 and then first-team all-conference as both a junior and a senior.
He also had some standout games against top competition.
North Carolina’s first game last season was against South Carolina and star defensive end Jadaveon Clowney, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.
Hurst was matched up primarily against Clowney and helped hold Clowney without a sack.
“Obviously the injury was a big setback,” Hurst said, “but it’s behind me now, and I’m just trying to get better and make the team.”
Hurst said he had contract offers from 18 other teams after the draft, but he liked the opportunity in Baltimore.
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