Was the Eagles drafting Jalen Hurts a waste?
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Although Hurts is unquestionably a good prospect, I really don’t like the move. In June 2019, the Eagles signed 27-year-old quarterback Carson Wentz to a four-year, $128 million contract extension with $107 million guaranteed. So, for the Eagles front office then to spend a valuable 2nd round pick on another quarterback when their team has so many other holes is in my opinion unexplainable. Before evaluating Hurts as a prospect, I intend to address the reported and possible reasons for the Eagles drafting Hurts.
The number one argument for drafting Hurts is Wentz’s durability. I cannot dispute that Wentz has missed games due injury including play-off runs each of the last three seasons. However, I completely disagree with evaluation that Wentz is injury-prone or fragile, but I instead believe that he is wildly reckless. When you look at each of his injures you can see the common trend, he is outside of the pocket trying to either escape or make a play with his legs. In 2015 Wentz’s broken wrist was due to him rolling out of the pocket and landing on his wrist, in 2016 his fractured rib was due to a completely unblocked rusher in pre-season who unloaded a huge hit on Wentz, which would’ve likely caused injury to a lot of quarterbacks. His torn ACL and LCL in 2017 were due to Wentz escaping the pocket and diving for a touchdown whilst sandwiched between two big hits. In 2018 his back problems starting in week 7 of the season went unattended and were later found in a CT scan to be a vertebral stress fracture, had the coaching staff found this early its likely Went wouldn't have to have missed the entirety of this season. Finally, his 2019 concussion was down to him trying to escape a pocket when he should’ve dumped the ball off, followed by a dirty hit on the back of his head. Hence, I reject the idea that he is injury prone and fragile but instead unwise and reckless, which unlike being fragile and injury prone is easily fixed and I think Wentz will do so.
The only other argument is Taysom Hill. Personally, I don’t understand why this is even debated, while yes Hill helps the Saints offense with a range of looks and gadget plays, he is not that valuable to the team. Without Hill I am sure offensive genius Sean Payton could find other ways to create offense. Further, Taysom Hill went undrafted before being picked up by the Packers and eventually claimed off waivers by the Saints in 2017, whereas the Eagles spent the 57th overall pick on Hurts. Sure, Hurts is a good athlete and a very powerful runner, running a 4.59 40-yard dash placing him 2nd amongst quarterbacks at the 2020 combine, but he is an established quarterback and I find it insulting that the Eagles intend to use him as a gadget player. With the right development I believe Hurts could easily be a starter in the NFL but when being used as a gadget in special teams and different offensive packages I believe Hurts could in fact see his development stunted.
As a quarterback prospect I’m a big fan of Hurts. Coming out of college he is very comparable to Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Apart from Prescott playing for Mississippi State and Hurts playing for both Alabama and Oklahoma both of their 3 years as starters are very comparable. Prescott had a average completion percent of 62.1 to Hurts 64.4. Prescott threw for a total of 9,182 yards to Hurts' 8,712. Prescott had a touchdown to interception ratio of 66-23 to Hurts’ 72-18. Prescott rushed for 2,403 yards and 37 touchdowns to Hurts’ 3,107 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns. Hurts played 5 game more than Prescott as a starter and sure Hurts played with greater talent, but he also had to play against greater teams. Overall the similarities are uncanny, they both even measure at 6ft 2 with a very built physique and have incredibly similar draft analyses. Developmental prospects, great leaders, hard workers, inconsistent, lack of elite arm talent and inaccurate throwing deep balls. Whilst it’s by no means guaranteed Hurts will follow Prescott’s trajectory at the pros their similarities are undeniable and highlight the kind of quarterback Hurts will be.
Prior to Hurts’ 2019 season his stock was very low due to being benched in the National Championship game for Tua Tagovailoa, but after transferring to Oklahoma in 2019 he had a huge breakout year with a career best in completion percentage (69.7%), passing yards (3,851), passing touchdowns (32), rushing yards (1,298) and rushing touchdowns (20) which led to his stock rising once again.
Hurts has a lot of strengths not many quarterbacks possess which is why I like him so much as a developmental prospect. He has great intangibles, he’s a winner, finishing his college career as a starter 38-4 and an incredible leader of men as well as playing tough and durable. When it comes to in game and throwing the ball Hurts has showed clutch ability to make plays late in games. He excels in RPO’s but has experience of playing for numerous coaches in different schemes as well. When it comes to Hurts’ weaknesses, they are mainly focused only his ability to win from the pocket. He makes a lot of off-schedule throws, misses early windows and check downs and attempts harder throws, when launching deep, too many times have his receivers had to come back or slow down due to his inaccuracy and similarly to 2020 draft prospect Jordan Love he often voids pockets instead of standing with poise and delivering the ball downfield.
So, while im a big fan of Jalen Hurts as a prospect I hate the move for the Eagles and for Hurts. I believe the Eagles should’ve opted for more secondary or receiver help at 57th overall instead of a quarterback given they possess a top 10 quarterback in the NFL who has played at MVP levels before getting injured. I also believe that Hurts’ would be better off in an offensive scheme where they purely develop him as a passer instead of as a gadget player for special teams and offensive packages.