Josh Hennig: Eagles Are Not Settling for Jalen Hurts
With the departure of Carson Wentz this offseason, the status of "Franchise Quarterback" is now a job opening in Philadelphia. The expectation is that Jalen Hurts is the man in line to be the Eagles next starting Quarterback, but there are those out there who are not sold on the idea of giving the "keys to the car" to the Quarterback who will turn 23 years old before the start of the 2021 NFL season. There is even some speculation that the Eagles could draft another Quarterback in the First Round of the 2021 NFL Draft with their Sixth Overall pick.
Despite the fact that Jalen Hurts was a second round draft pick and his first four NFL starts were a mixed bag of spectacular moments along with disappointing results, the reality is that he has the potential to be a very good NFL Quarterback. Hurts evolution from being a limited Mobile Quarterback in his earlier years at Alabama to being a Heisman Trophy candidate at Oklahoma is not something an objective observer can overlook. In Hurts one year playing for the Oklahoma Sooners, he was sixth in FBS College Football in Completion Percentage (69.7%) with the second best Passer Efficiency Rating (191.2) and number one in all of College Football in Passing Yards Per Attempt (11.3). So the reality is Jalen Hurts can be a very productive passer and he's not just an athlete playing the Quarterback position.
We are over seven weeks away from the 2021 NFL Draft, the instinctive tendency for some football fans to assume the "Grass is Greener on the other side of the fence". Many experts believe five Quarterbacks will be selected in the first round of this year's draft with the Clemson Quarterback Trevor Lawrence anticipated to be the first player drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars. So technically the other four NFL Prospects are in play for anyone holding a draft pick in the top ten.
But I have a problem with those who are salivating over the idea that the Eagles could draft BYU's Zach Wilson or Ohio State's Justin Fields or North Dakota State's Trey Lance or Alabama's Mac Jones. Drafting a Quarterback is one of the biggest gambles in sports and using a First Round pick on a Quarterback is a risk because your team is passing up a potential great player at another position of need.
From 1999 to 2019, 61 Quarterbacks have been drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft; Only 28 of those Quarterbacks have been been Pro Bowl selections. That means 45.9% of the Quarterbacks drafted in the First Round of the NFL Draft over 20 years were quality NFL Starting Quarterbacks. So if the Eagles draft a Quarterback in the First Round 2021 NFL Draft is less than a 50-50 Guarantee that player will work out for the organization. The idea that the Eagles would pass on LSU Wide Receiver Ja'Marr Chase, Alabama Cornerback Patrick Surtain, Florida Tight End Kyle Pitts, or Alabama Wide Receivers Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle in order to draft a Quarterback could haunt the franchise for the next 5-10 years.
The reality that people don't want to admit is that they are treating Jalen Hurts like he is no longer the shinny, new car coming off the lot, even though he is just a year old. People are looking at all the new and fresh Quarterbacks available in the NFL Draft and fantasizing about those players in an Eagles uniform. They don't even want to give Hurts a chance, they just want someone else because some people are never happy with who or what they already have. NFL Draft Quarterback Prospects may look fun and exciting but there's no guarantee they will live up to your expectations. They all have flaws and need time to develop, this idea that they are all better than Jalen Hurts is misguided:
*Zach Wilson has sustained injuries to both of his shoulders which forced him to miss games in 2018 and 2019 seasons. In the biggest game of his 2020 season, he was limited to just One Touchdown and 240 Passing Yards in BYU's loss at Costal Carolina in which his team only scored 17 points when they were the third best offense in College Football last season (43.5 PPG)
*Trey Lance has started only 17 games over the last two years at North Dakota State and that includes the one game he played in 2020 due to COVID-19 shutting down the FCS College Football season. He only has four more college starts than Mitch Trubisky when the Chicago Bears drafted him.
*Justin Fields had a great career at Ohio State but in his three biggest games in the College Football Playoff, he was good but not great: In 3 games versus Clemson and Alabama, Fields had a 64.5% Completion Percentage with Eight Touchdowns and Three Interceptions. Those three interceptions account for one third of all of his interceptions thrown in his College Football career
None of those Quarterbacks are perfect, none of them are significantly better than Jalen Hurts, so exactly why should the Eagles draft any of those guys? Just because Jalen Hurts isn't a finished product or a first round pick, that doesn't mean he can't be the next Franchise Quarterback for the Eagles.
Some of the Jalen Hurts detractor typically point to his 52% Completion Percentage as a huge flaw in him as an NFL Quarterback; but pointing to that stat is flawed in itself. Go back to the Packers game and you will see that three of Hurts seven incompletions were throwaways while four of his 13 incompletions versus the Saints were also throwaways. If you remove those seven passes from the stat line, Hurts real completion percentage combined in the Saints and Packers games was 66.7% (22 completed passes on 33 Pass Attempts).
The Eagles have a history of giving Quarterbacks multiple opportunities to prove if they can be the team's Franchise Quarterback since Donovan McNabb was traded: From Kevin Kolb to Michael Vick to Nick Foles to Carson Wentz. So why not give Jalen Hurts the same fair share of opportunities to be successful? The Eagles are not settling for Jalen Hurts just because they are not going into the 2021 NFL Draft and selecting one of the "Shinny, new cars" that are available.
Jalen Hurts teammates say he's a great leader, Howie Roseman said last year the organization felt strongly about drafting Jalen Hurts, and the Eagles new Quarterback coach, Brian Johnson, has known Hurts since the Quarterback was a young child. So I say to you Eagles fans: Stop fantasizing about other Quarterbacks and give the player already on the team a chance to show you what he can do this upcoming season.