Matt Ryan gushes over Hayden Hurst: 'He's a mismatch problem'

When the Atlanta Falcons traded a second-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for tight end Hayden Hurst during free agency, Matt Ryan’s already stacked receiver group added another weapon.

Ryan's current receiver group includes three former first-round picks: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hurst. The Falcons also added running back Todd Gurley who is still considered to be one of best pass-catching backs in the league.

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While it hasn't been at the Falcons' training facility, Hurst and Ryan have spent time working out together this offseason. Hurst recently said he's been driving from his house in Jacksonville, Fla., to Atlanta to work with his new quarterback.

"I've been incredibly impressed with Hayden's work ethic," Ryan said on Tuesday. "He's got great speed, great athleticism. Wants to be a great player … the effort, the attitude all of that stuff is there. He fits in well with the group of guys we have."

Hurst, 26, was the No. 25 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. In his first two seasons in the league, Hurst caught 43 passes for 512 yards and three touchdowns. Given the way the Ravens' depth chart fell, Hurst wasn't used as much in the passing game as he will with the Falcons.

When asked what his strengths are, Hurst said he prides himself on being a "well-rounded" tight end but is especially excited about the opportunity to show off his athleticism and speed.

"Being 6-foot-5, 265 pounds and being able to run the way I do puts a lot of stress on linebackers and safeties," Hurst said. "I think I'm able to stretch the field vertically really well. I'm so excited for the opportunity, I think it's going to be awesome for my skillset."

From Tony Gonzalez to Austin Hooper, Ryan's connection with his tight ends has been important through the years. Hurst will be likely become one of Ryan's go-to targets given the attention Jones and Ridley will draw on the outside.

As for what has surprised Atlanta's quarterback the most about Hurst in just the few months of working together, it's his athleticism.

"He is for sure one of the fastest and most athletic tight ends I've ever played with," Ryan said. "He's a mismatch problem, he's going to create separation and win in different ways than those guys did."

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