Eagles Try to Explain Decision to Draft Jalen Hurts
As the second round started and reached the middle portion, Eagles fans started to see many intriguing options as pick No. 53 began to close in.
Defensive end A. J. Epenesa, Wide receivers Van Jefferson and Denzel Mims, cornerback Kristian Fulton and safety Jeremy Chinn and Ashtyn Davis were all on the board when the Eagles were on the clock.
Instead, the Eagles called a name that many thought wouldn't be called at all in Round 2, and a position that many Eagles fans did see as an immediate need.
The problem is the Eagles liked Jalen Hurts, but didn't think he would make it to their next pick, No. 103 in Round 3.
"There were a lot of people in this league that have a lot of love for Jalen Hurts, and I think Coach [Pederson], Andy and I can just tell you from the text messages we got from the people we respect around the league about the kind of passion people have for this player and this person, I don't think there's any chance of that," Roseman said when asked if he thought Hurts would have made it to them in Round 3 or 4.
So the team decided to pull the trigger, on the very coachable Hurts that Doug Pederson will get to work with, after the Eagles surprised everyone with the 53 overall pick (2nd round) on the Oklahoma QB.
"When [Head] Coach [Doug] Pederson came in and we sat down in 2016, we said we were always going to be about the quarterback position, that it was the most important position in sports," explained Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman on Friday night.
"We were very fortunate to get a young, Pro-Bowl quarterback in Carson Wentz. Our goal is to surround him with as many good people and good players as we possibly can. So for us, in this pick, when we sat and talked about it as a smaller group and looked at where we were on the board, and what was the thing that we believed in the most and what were the kind of people we believed in the most, [QB] Jalen [Hurts] stood out in all those regards. We think he is an incredible teammate. He has a lot to learn here, obviously."
Throughout the Eagles explaining the reason behind taking Hurts in Round 2 on Friday night, Pederson and Roseman made sure to point where the rookie QB stands on the depth chart.
Pederson stressed that Hurts is a QB first, but did admit that he brings other assets to the table that the Eagles intend to utilize.
"I want to make a point here first and foremost that Jalen Hurts is a good quarterback, and he was drafted as a quarterback and he's a quarterback first, but he has a unique skill set that he's a great runner," Pederson stressed. "Obviously, he throws well on the run. He has a unique set of skills that we're going to take a look at as we keep developing this off-season and this advancement, so to speak, as we get ready for training camp."
Pederson also reiterated that the team brought Nate Sudfeld back, and that he wants to lead a team, meaning Hurts will have to win the backup job, not be handed it.
"Again, we're not penciling anybody in as a backup at this point," Pederson said. "We just know that we're very comfortable with Nate. We like Nate. That's why we brought him back, and it gives us an opportunity to develop this quarterback in Jalen."
The Eagles have no plans to move on from Sudfeld as the team re-signed him to a one-year contract on March 24.
"We're in a situation where we brought [QB] Nate Sudfeld back, and Nate has been very clear that he wants an opportunity to go lead a team," Pederson stated. "So we kind of looked at the future of our football team and said we keep getting in this situation and we keep kind of putting in resources, and to get a guy in here that can be in the system and learn and grow, that to us, it's worth its weight in gold."
One thing for certain is there has never been any questions about Hurts character, its one of the key reasons the Eagles brought him here. While he can run, throw and add another dimension to the Eagles offense, its the fact that he is a winner that made him such an attractive fit for the Eagles quarterback room.
During the draft process, the Eagles sent out Passing Game Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Press Taylor to meet with him before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and shut everything down.
"Press had a chance to go to Oklahoma to the pro day and visit, watch him throw, and watch him move around," Pederson said. "Obviously, the combine, I felt like he had a really good workout there at the combine. But Press Taylor did have a chance to sit with him in Indianapolis and then again go watch him throw in Oklahoma."
For the Eagles, this was about value, and how much they value that quarterback position, so clearly the Hurts checked enough boxes in terms of value for them to take him in that spot.
"We think he's more valuable than the pick we took him at," said Roseman. "And we think where the league is going, when he gets experience and coaching, he's going to be a valuable player, and for us that's our job is to acquire as many assets as we can and utilize them and also utilize them to get more value. So that's really what the draft is about. It's about value, it's about acquiring players that we think have high value, and really when you look at the quarterback position, there's nothing that has more value."
People wonder what Carson Wentz thinks about the decision to bring in another quarterback.
"I spoke to Carson before the pick, and I told him our thought process about the quarterback position and how that's always been part of our DNA in our organization, to draft and develop quarterbacks and to make that room as strong as any room in the National Football League."
"We told him about it, and again, there's no threat to Carson here," Roseman stressed. "Carson is a great player and great person, and I know that both these guys are great teammates."