NFL Draft

5 Possible Explanations for Eagles' Jalen Hurts Pick

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The Eagles entered the 2020 NFL Draft with plenty of question marks at positions like wide receiver, linebacker, and the general secondary area.

So general manager Howie Roseman's decision to select quarterback Jalen Hurts with the No. 53 pick on Friday night seems like a complete non sequitur, a pick that simply makes no sense.

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Fans certainly felt that way. I know I did.

But there has to be some explanation for the decision, so here's a look at five theories that popped up on social media Friday night, which might justify what just happened.

1. Carson Wentz's injury history

Is it possible the Eagles are worried about Carson Wentz's health? It makes the most sense. Wentz, 27, played in all 16 regular season games in 2019, the first time he's done so since his rookie season, but he exited his first playoff game with an early concussion. He missed the last three games of the 2017 regular season with a torn ACL, along with the ensuing Super Bowl run, and then missed five games in 2018 with nagging injuries, including a back problem. 

Here's what NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank thinks the Hurts pick means for Wentz's health concerns:

You don't draft a quarterback in the second round when you have a $100 million quarterback just reaching his prime unless you have grave doubts about his ability to stay healthy.
 
Unless you seriously doubt his ability to navigate his way through a football season, from opening day through the final snap of the postseason.

None of these injuries are connected, but between his first four seasons in the NFL and his injury history during his college days, it's technically possible the Eagles' front office is trying to future-proof its organization, despite Wentz signing a huge extension before the 2019 season began.

2. A Taysom Hill-style role

In the immediate moments after the Hurts pick, some fans and NFL observers floated the idea of Roseman eyeing a Taysom Hill-style role for Hurts in the Eagles' offense next season. Hill, the backup quarterback for the Saints who was used in a slash-style role, sometimes running the wildcat offense and sometimes throwing it, has had moderate success in some spots as a spell for Drew Brees, and as a way to throw opposing defenses into confusion. 

It's technically possible Roseman and the Eagles' coaching staff see a way to use Hurts' talents - he ran 614 times for 3,274 yards and 43 touchdowns during his college career - to their advantage.

It's especially possible, considering Wentz's mobility has put him in harm's way in years past.

3. Picking for value

Sometimes, when teams don't see an immediate and obvious fit between available players and their positions of need, they simply draft the best player available. 

Was Jalen Hurts the best player available at No. 53? It feels like a stretch, despite his prolific college success. But perhaps Roseman and the Eagles' evaluators see Hurts as a second-round quarterback talent, and didn't like their options. 

Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, and Iowa pass rusher A.J. Epenesa were all available at No. 53, which makes this theory... confusing, if true. But you never know.

4. Trade options?

As the pick rolled in, some wondered aloud: Are the Eagles going to trade Hurts for more picks later in the draft? With just one pick in the third round, Roseman would probably like to have more options in a deep draft class. (Of course, by this logic, he should probably use his pick at No. 53 in such a deep class, but we digress.)

The problem with this line of logic is that there aren't any immediately obvious teams who need to fix their quarterback situation, and couldn't have done something about it earlier in the draft. Washington's QB situation is odd, but they passed on Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert at No. 2 to take Chase Young. Carolina's situation is similarly unclear, as is New England's, but both teams had a chance to take someone like Jordan Love in the first round if they wanted a young project QB with a high ceiling.

5. Backup QB concerns

Knowing that Wentz might be considered injury prone, as we touched on earlier, maybe the Eagles' front office sees a healthy quarterback as the only thing between their team and a deep playoff run. (I would disagree, but I am not in charge.) 

It's possible that the Eagles, with Josh McCown riding off into the sunset, weren't comfortable taking Nate Sudfeld into the 2020 season as the team's backup, even though they would probably have other opportunities and avenues to address this concern as the offseason continues.

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