NFL

2020 NFL Draft: Why Jalen Hurts makes sense for the Eagles

By Sports Desk April 25, 2020

Eyebrows might have been raised when the Green Bay Packers selected Jordan Love, but jaws dropped to the ground after the Philadelphia Eagles then drafted Jalen Hurts.

Why would a team with a franchise quarterback about to hit his peak years spend the 53rd overall pick on another signal caller?

Carson Wentz is the Philadelphia Eagles' undisputed starter so Hurts, who had an impressive college career with Alabama and then Oklahoma, will only be a backup.

So was there a typo when general manager Howie Roseman text in his second-round selection? Had someone hacked the Eagles' virtual draft?

No, in many ways the Hurts pick makes sense for Philly. Here, we take a look at why.

 

The Taysom Hill effect

The NFL is a copycat league, and you better believe Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has taken notice of what Sean Payton has done with Taysom Hill in New Orleans.

"[Hurts] has a unique skill set. You see what Taysom Hill has done in New Orleans and how he and Drew Brees have a connection and a bond there."

Hill only played in 22.65 per cent of New Orleans' offensive snaps last season but you only needed to watch the Saints' Wildcard Round loss to the Minnesota Vikings to see his value.

The 'quarterback' had 50 yards passing, 50 yards rushing and 25 yards receiving, with a touchdown, and it was Hill, not Brees, Michael Thomas or Alvin Kamara, who was the Saints' most impactful offensive weapon that day.

Now consider that two years ago Philadelphia's new passing game coordinator, Press Taylor, mused on the possibility of "having multiple people on the field who can throw the ball" in the future.

Hurts is not only an efficient passer - 3,851 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2019 - he's also exceptional with his legs - 1,298 yards for 20 touchdowns last season.

Look at Brees and Hill, look at how the Baltimore Ravens' read-option offense was unstoppable with Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram in 2019, and then think about what Pederson and Taylor could do with a multi-faceted offense led by Wentz and Hurts...

Backups (can) win Super Bowls

No one knows the value of an excellent backup quarterback more than the Philadelphia Eagles.

Two years ago the hangovers had just about cleared from their Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots, delivered by a deputy, Nick Foles throwing three touchdowns and famously catching another.

How many Super Bowl runs have been ended by injuries to starting quarterbacks? Just last season Philly's campaign was ended because 40-year-old Josh McCown was unable to lead them past the Seattle Seahawks in the Wildcard Round after Wentz down.

That injury-ravaged Eagles team only lost by a score. Would they have won had Hurts come in? There's every chance. And Wentz has missed eight regular-season games over the past three seasons.

"The most important player on any team is the quarterback. The second-most important player? The backup quarterback."

Eagles fans might not like the man who produced this quote - former Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs - but they know it rings true. 

Gibbs, of course, won three Super Bowls with three different starting quarterbacks.

The quarterback factory

Roseman knew it was coming, so he attempted to head it off.

Prior to answering reporters' questions about the Hurts pick, he did his best to explain his rationale.

"For better or worse, we are quarterback developers. We want to be a quarterback factory."

A strange thing to aspire to be, sure, but Roseman is right in pointing out the Eagles have a recent history of developing quarterbacks and then moving them on.

A.J. Feeley, Kevin Kolb and Foles were all drafted by the Eagles and later traded. Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford were two veterans who brought in premium picks, and the selection Philadelphia got for the latter was spent on Derek Barnett, who recovered the fumble that sealed their Super Bowl win.

If Hurts pans out as Philadelphia hope, the likelihood is that, at the very least, he will be a prized trade asset down the line. And quarterbacks, particularly ones with a history of winning like Hurts, are the most prized assets of all.

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