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NFL Draft 2020: The impact of Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia

Through two days of the 2020 NFL Draft, we had some surprising selections and some home-run picks in a nearly seamless, virtual event. Teams such as the Dolphins and Bengals tried to build for the future. While others like the Buccaneers and Ravens added to already talented teams in hopes to take that next step towards a Lombardi Trophy in 2020. The NFL Draft is the start of something special and a time of hope and resurgence for teams, as well as players entering the league next season.  

One of the teams looking to their immediate future and getting back to the playoffs is the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles only had two picks on the second day of the draft and turned some heads with their selections. The process can be unnerving for the players getting picked, but also for the veterans that could be on the outs. 

And those nerves may have reached a peak with quarterback Carson Wentz in the City of Brotherly Love. Below, I will take a look at the team’s most surprising selection from the draft’s second day and break down what it means for the Wentz and the Eagles as they move forward into the 2020 NFL season.   

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Round 2, Pick 53: Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma

Following the first day of the 2020 NFL Draft and the Green Bay Packers’ selection of Utah State’s Jordan Love, some question marks were surrounding the quarterback position and when the next signal-caller would come off the board. Washington’s Jacob Eason and Georgia’s Jake Fromm were big names during the college season, but it was Oklahoma’s Heisman candidate Jalen Hurts that got the call

With the 53rd pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles selected Oklahoma quarterback, Jalen Hurts. And with this selection, shockwaves were sent through the city of Philadelphia and the entire Eagles fan base. Undoubtedly, Philadelphia fans were in shock, as were players around the NFL, including the NFC East.

How did Hurts become a top quarterback option?

For Hurts, he took a tremendous step forward in 2019 as a passer and quarterback prospect overall. Before this past season, the former Alabama transfer looked closer to a day-three prospect than the fifth quarterback off the board. He proved to be a legitimate dual-threat as a thrower and runner on his way to 3,851 passing yards and 1,298 yards on the ground. 

He finished in the top-three for the Heisman Trophy and transformed himself into a legitimate quarterback prospect for the 2020 NFL Draft. The Eagles’ decision to choose Hurts in the second round could either be a slight change in offensive philosophy or a full-blown changing of the guard in short order at the quarterback position.

For the incumbent Wentz, the selection of Hurts may be a bit of a head-scratcher on the surface. However, Hurts makes a ton of sense both in the short and long-term of this football team. And to his credit, the current Philly starter took the high road and welcomed Hurts through Twitter on Friday night. 

When healthy, Wentz has been able to carry the team on his back, but that health has been a significant question mark in recent years. Philadelphia’s Super Bowl win with former backup Nick Foles is well-documented in sports history, and the team could be preparing for a similar scenario down the line with Hurts. Hurts himself is familiar with the script, as he watched former teammate Tua Tagovailoa replace him and win the 2018 National Championship for the Crimson Tide.

Hurts’ impact in Philadelphia going forward

In the short-term, Hurts should be one of the better backup quarterback options in the league and valuable insurance in the event another Wentz injury pops up. However, the team could also find a way to incorporate Hurts into the offense regularly as a slash player, ala what the Saints have done with Tayson Hill and similar to the way the Steelers used Kordell Stewart. With new fellow draft pick Jalen Reager, Hurts could have a huge impact right away and add an extremely explosive component to this Philadelphia offense and help the team get back to the playoffs in 2020. 

When it comes to the long-term future of this team, the decision to choose Hurts on Friday night certainly casts some doubt surrounding Wentz’s future with the Eagles. If Hurts can have a big impact during his first few years in Philadelphia, he could give them another option as the starting quarterback of the Eagles moving forward.

Before the 2019 season, the team did sign Wentz to a monster four-year extension worth up to $154 million, with $107 million guaranteed. One thing is for sure; things are going to be very interesting in Philadelphia over the next few months and years as the dust settles from the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Scott Gorman is a writer for PFN covering the 2021 NFL Draft. You can follow him at @sgormanPFN on Twitter.

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