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NFL Draft

Don’t Sleep On the High-Octane Talent Jalen Hurts

  • The Draft Network
  • August 31, 2021
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Following the Eagles’ trade for the elaborate personality that is Gardner Minshew and all of his mustache-bearing glory, skepticism has arisen surrounding the overall path team general manager Howie Roseman eyes for the future under center in Philadelphia. Gone are franchise favorites in Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, which has left a trio of signal-callers set to endure what may produce a week-by-week approach under center for newly-minted head coach Nick Sirianni.

With one of the weaker rosters in all of football with aging trench anchors on both sides of the football, an extreme lack of talent at linebacker and the secondary, and a shockingly young group of offensive weapons, the Eagles have found themselves spinning their tires under the oft-criticized Roseman. However, for all that went wrong in Philadelphia in 2020 and could similarly go south this fall, don’t hide your eyes to the unique dual-threat talent that is the 23-year-old Hurts.

In what may develop as the lone bright spot within a substandard group of 53, Hurts touts all the fundamental talent scouts eye in a young quarterback. His savvy, athleticism, arm arrogance, and ability to create off-script have shown flashes as he heads into his second season as a pro. With just four starts behind what developed into one of the league’s worst offensive lines due to a litany of injuries and an inherent lack of coaching and depth, Hurts’ numbers pop off the charts, as he finished the year with two games of 300-plus passing yards and 60-plus rushing yards—which slots him tied for the fourth-most in an NFL career behind the likes of Steve Young (4), Russell Wilson (3), and former Eagles passers Michael Vick (3) and Donovan McNabb (2).

Hurts, again, has made just four starts.  

With little sample size, you’d be silly to compare the ability of Hurts to former Eagles dual-threat talents in Vick, McNabb, or All-Pro Randall Cunningham, but the ceiling is there for Hurts… he just needs the correct platform and trust from up top.

In his first appearance as a pro, Hurts displayed everything executives gawked over following a masterful senior season at Oklahoma. Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers saw Hurts enter in garbage time, completing five of his 12 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown (with one interception), highlighted by his first touchdown pass, right on the money off-script. On 4th-and-18 from the Packers’ 32-yard line, only a handful of signal-callers in today’s NFL can make the type of throw Hurts made on the run to his arm side. A flash during the tail end of a blowout, sure, but the talent was apparent, which ultimately led to his first-ever starting nod the following week against the New Orleans Saints.

In his first half as the starter for the Eagles against the league’s second-ranked defense, Hurts amassed 204 total yards and a 17-0 halftime lead against the then 10-2 Saints. With limited reps of work during the weeks prior with Wentz as the starter, Hurts carried Philadelphia to a much-needed victory in the midst of franchise turmoil.

What was most impressive was his ability to avoid negative plays, whereas Wentz found himself with an uncanny ability to falter amid chaos. Leading up to the Week 14 matchup with New Orleans, the Saints had recorded at least one sack in each of their 12 prior matchups, but against the lowly Eagles line, the Saints were held without a single QB takedown due to the escapability and playmaking prowess of Hurts.

The following week was much of the same, as Hurts amassed more than 400 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns against the blistering athleticism of the Arizona Cardinals defense in a 33-26 loss, once again displaying his ability to masthead an offense through the air and on the ground. 

And while an “L” in the win-loss column is never a positive, the outlook surrounding Hurts entering this fall with a healthy offensive line and a sparkling new talent on the outside in 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, should leave zero speculation as to who should tout the reins of the Eagles offense moving forward.

Hurts is much, much more than just a fantasy football stat stuffer. He has all the makings of a high-level NFL talent; Sirianni just has to let his horse run.

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