3 crucial elements Hayden Hurst brings to the Carolina Panthers in 2023

Hayden Hurst
Hayden Hurst / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
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Hayden Hurst extends Carolina Panthers options at TE

In watching games where Frank Reich was offensive coordinator or head coach, it’s easy to identify that he utilizes tight ends as an integral part of his schemes. The respected figure runs more two tight end sets than just about any coach in the league. And it doesn’t stop there.

Reich calls multiple looks that include three tight ends on the field at the same time.

With the addition of Hayden Hurst, that becomes a reality for the Carolina Panthers. If the roster was left untouched at the tight end position coming into the 2023 season, we would be looking at Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble being trotted out in jumbo packages. While both are very good blocking players for the position, they leave coaches and fans wanting much more in the passing game.

In an article written by Stephen Holder for The Atlantic in 2020, Frank Reich explains his affinity for the position and his usage of three tight-end personnel:

"When you get three tight ends on the field that are good, it just creates all kinds of options. What does the defense think when you put three tight ends on the field? In the old days, they’re thinking it’s all run. But if you’re looking at us, we throw the ball with three tight ends on the field just as much as we run it. But yet we’re still a danger to run it. So, that’s a good dynamic."

Frank Reich via The Atlantic

That last part of Reich’s quote is where Hurst is such an important addition. He has the ability to be physical at the line of scrimmage and hold his own as a run blocker. However, the veteran gives the Panthers a massive upgrade in terms of a pass-catching threat who can run a more diverse route tree.

Trying to deceive an opposing defense into thinking Thomas and Tremble could bust their coverage would’ve been a tall task. To put it mildly.

The Notre Dame product should improve under Reich and Thomas Brown, as well. But Hurst allows this coaching staff to open every wrinkle for the quarterback chosen with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, without tipping their hand in specific packages.