NFL Draft

2020 NFL Draft Grades: Eagles' Jalen Hurts Pick Is Head-Scratching on Many Levels

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Just when people were maybe coming to terms with the Jalen Reagor selection on Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Eagles go ahead and do something totally inexplicable in Round 2. 

With needs at just about every position on the roster, and plenty of quality prospects available, the Eagles chose Jalen Hurts, a backup quarterback, with the 53rd pick in the draft. 

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It's so off the wall, it's almost not even worth discussing the merits of Hurts as a player because, in theory, he should never see the field. 

Almost. 

The two prevailing theories here are: 1) Hurts can fill a role similar to that of Taysom Hill with the Saints, and 2) the Eagles are concerned Carson Wentz will never be able to stay healthy.  There are serious flaws with both lines of thinking. As far as the Hill comparison goes, if true, it's a gamble on multiple levels. 

Hurts certainly has the ability to be a weapon as a runner and receiver -- he rushed for over 3,000 yards in four seasons at Alabama and Oklahoma and caught five passes.

Hill wasn't a second-round pick though. He was an undrafted free agent. He scrapped his way up from the practice squad, played special teams, and last season lined up for all of 22% of the offensive snaps, which still isn't a lot. 

In other words, the Eagles didn't pluck some intriguing prospect off waivers and groom him over a period of years. They spent a premium pick on Hurts, who by the way might not be thrilled by the Hill comparison either, because he likely believed he would go somewhere to compete for an opportunity to start, not run with the kick coverage unit. 

Which brings us to the second point. While his medical history might be overblown, there's no denying Wentz has dealt with some sort of injury every year as a pro, and even going back to college. The Eagles needed to identify a long-term backup, if not in this draft, then soon, regardless of the health issues because quarterbacks, like all NFL players, tend to get hurt. 

But by using a second-round pick on Hurts, the Eagles immediately open up a can of worms that there are larger concerns about Wentz's future -- that he'll always be hurt, that the organization doesn't necessarily believe he'll be the franchise quarterback here two to three years now. 

This, of course, is preposterous. The Eagles just signed Wentz to a huge contract extension last year. He played all 17 games in 2019, and the concussion he suffered at the end was the result of a dirty hit. He's a phenomenal player, and all expectations are he should have a long career in Philly.

True or untrue, bringing Hurts into the equation creates the perception there is a quarterback controversy. And as soon as Wentz inevitably does miss a game or struggles for a few weeks, the moment Hurts so much as breaks an 80-yard run or hits Reagor on a bomb out of the wildcat, the drumbeat for change will grow, first from fans, then pundits, and perhaps eventually inside the locker room and NovaCare Complex. 

At best, Hurts, for all his talents and qualities, should wind up a high-end backup -- a luxury the Eagles can ill-afford -- and offensive gimmick, roles he may not be especially happy filling. At worst, he is a distraction, the physical embodiment of the self-fulfilling prophecy that Wentz will not finish his career here. 

The middle ground is a spot starter the Eagles keep around for a few years when, if they're lucky, they maybe get their second-round pick back in a trade down the road. That assumes he ever plays under center, and plays well when given the chance. Those are big ifs. 

Or, maybe Hurts makes Wentz expendable and available to trade. Who can say? The whole thing is wild. 

Did we mention the Eagles could use receivers, defensive linemen, defensive backs, linebackers, offensive linemen and a running back? 

For all we know, Hurts is going to be a great weapon, great backup, perhaps even a better quarterback than Wentz that makes everyone fine with moving on. 

Unfortunately, how good or bad Hurts is as a prospect is almost beside the point. Wentz is fine. The rest of the roster is not.

Just one more reason to worry about Wentz's impending demise. 

Grade: F 

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