SMU defensive end Margus Hunt is a native of Estonia who started playing football in 2009. A gold-medal track and field athlete, Hunt came to the United States to throw shot put and discus. When SMU disbanded their track and field team, the only way Hunt could stay at the school was to play football.
At 6-8, 277 pounds, hunt absolutely blew up the 2013 Scouting Combine. The defensive end ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, posted a 34.5-inch vertical, and knocked out 38 reps on the bench press. That has led some to argue that Hunt is a workout warrior whose athleticism doesn’t translate to the football field, but Hunt was relatively productive in college. He recorded 11.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks in 2012—both career-highs. In his first year at SMU, Hunt blocked an amazing seven kicks.
When you watch Hunt on tape, you see what you’d expect: a very strong, extremely quick defensive end who looks a bit awkward at times. Hunt can turn in an All-Pro type of play one minute, then get completely fooled on the next. When Hunt isn’t sure what he sees, he gets hesitant when he should be going all-out, even if he’s doing the wrong thing.
Having said that, let’s not forget that Hunt just started playing football. No one ever said he isn’t a project, but the traits he lacks—football smarts and experience—will come. The characteristics that allowed him to step onto the field at SMU at contribute immediately—6-8 height and blazing speed—can’t be taught. I researched the success of NFL defensive ends drafted since 2000, and those around Hunt’s height have been nearly twice as productive as those under 6-4.
It’s worth noting that Hunt played a little defensive tackle at SMU, so he offers some versatility. Hunt could potentially play defensive end in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme, even standing up as a 3-4 outside linebacker in certain situations.
NFL Comparison: Calais Campbell
Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell is a 6-8, 282-pound player who might very well be the second-best five-technique in the NFL behind J.J. Watt. Both Campbell and Hunt have an elite first step and incredible size. Hunt has Campbell-like potential, at a minimum.
I recently placed Hunt in the back of the first round of my first mock draft. I think that’s probably a best-case scenario for him, with the second round being a more likely landing spot. Due to his measurables, I don’t see any way he drops out of the second, although many are projecting him into the third because he’s so raw. Some team will have the patience to give him a year or two to develop into a dominant defensive end.
Fit In Dallas
Like UCLA’s Datone Jones, I love how Hunt would fit in Dallas. Despite his lack of experience, I still think he could start immediately and be somewhat productive right out of the gate. Hunt would play defensive end for the ‘Boys, although he could also slide into the three-technique defensive tackle position on passing downs.
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Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.