The latest buzz out of Philadelphia Eagles training camp regarding second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts should have fans extremely exciting for what’s in store for the 2021 season.
According to ESPN insider Jordan Schultz, Eagles players are “blown away” by Hurts’ on-field ability and his leadership outside the white lines:
Because Philadelphia has three first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft and Hurts wasn’t a Day 1 prospect, the popular belief has been that they’ll move off him in favor of a more highly touted signal-caller.
But based on our 2021 Eagles schedule predictions and our latest NFL Mock Draft, there won’t be any need for Philly to move off Hurts once this season ends.
Jalen Hurts’ football journey prepared him for Philadelphia Eagles adversity
Trust that this author was among the skeptics decrying Alabama’s decision to continue starting Hurts when it was clear he lacked polish as a passer, and as true freshman phenom Tua Tagovailoa was waiting behind him.
Tagovailoa threw the Crimson Tide to a national title win over Georgia after Hurts was benched at halftime, connecting with eventual Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith on a touchdown pass.
Despite that obvious setback, Hurts was the ultimate teammate, sat behind Tagovailoa the following season, and showed marked improvement throwing the ball in relief duty. But it was obvious that he didn’t have a chance at starting over Tagovailoa in 2019, so he transferred to Oklahoma.
By the way, no pressure there. Following No. 1 overall draft picks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray wasn’t easy, yet Hurts balled out for the Sooners, parlaying his successful one-year stint under Lincoln Riley into landing with the Eagles in the next year’s draft.
Another QB controversy during Hurts’ rookie season ultimately resulted in Carson Wentz getting traded this offseason. Hurts, meanwhile, was put in an extremely compromising position of spot starting duty with a bad supporting cast and a banged-up offensive line.
Funny how things come full circle. Only this time, Hurts appears to be getting used to his possible future as the Eagles’ QB1. Smith is now teammates with him in Philadelphia, and the former is already hyping them as a premier young QB-wide receiver combination.
Philadelphia Eagles’ polarizing pick of Jalen Hurts could pay huge dividends
- Jalen Hurts stats (Philadelphia Eagles, 2020): Completed 77 of 148 passing attempts (52%), 1,061 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions, 77.6 passer rating; 63 carries, 354 yards, three rushing touchdowns
When the Eagles drafted Hurts in the first place, it was viewed as a puzzling pick. Wentz wound up crumbling under the pressure, even though there was no sense a second-rounder who many viewed as a raw prospect could challenge one of the highest-paid players in the game.
Philadelphia knew the value of the backup quarterback, though, having watched Wentz deal with a multitude of injuries throughout his tenure. It was actually Nick Foles who led the Eagles to all their latest playoff success, including a Super Bowl MVP performance against the mighty New England Patriots.
Hurts represents more of the new guard of quarterback in the modern NFL. While Wentz is an excellent athlete and can extend plays with his legs, he’s not the pure running threat that Hurts is.
Now, the preseason and some solid training camp practices shouldn’t alone be a reason to hype up Hurts too much.
Even though his 52% completion rate from 2020 is misleading due to how often he was asked to deliver the ball downfield to receivers who struggled to create separation, that inefficiency is at least somewhat on Hurts. The good news is, it seems like he’s showing signs that he’ll make that Year 2 leap every team hopes to see from its young QB.
With three more years on a cheap rookie contract, Hurts could go a long way in relieving Philadelphia’s recent salary cap woes, and allow deal-making GM Howie Roseman to aggressively acquire high-end talent and make the Eagles competitive in a relatively wide-open NFC East.
Thanks to a deep front seven on defense, a returning offensive line that’s much healthier and young playmakers like Smith and Quez Watkins stepping up, perhaps Hurts has the means at his disposal to shock the NFL world in 2021.