The Philadelphia Eagles may have bet on big-play potential rather than proven steadiness by over LSU's Justin Jefferson in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but their approach was quite different in the second round. Rather than directly building around quarterback Carson Wentz with another playmaker, the Eagles threw a curve ball and made Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts the fifth QB to come off the board during the draft, opting for insurance over immediate help.
Some, like NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, have already predicted Hurts could be more than just a clipboard holder as a rookie, hinting several teams viewed the Sooners standout as a Taysom Hill-like utility man. The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane has echoed that notion, calling the Hurts selection "a move to add explosiveness, creativity to the Eagles offense." And pre-draft reports of Hurts' abilities suggest a play-making role could very much be in store for the former SEC Freshman of the Year, who's been lauded more for leadership and elusiveness than consistent passing prowess.
Still, regardless of whether coach Doug Pederson and Co. envision Hurts as someone who could immediately play alongside Wentz, the Oklahoma product is first and foremost insurance for No. 11 -- the truest version of it since Nick Foles resided in Philly. Josh McCown, 40, played admirably in place of an injured Wentz during the Eagles' most recent playoff appearance, but he's on the verge of retirement and coming off a serious injury of his own. So Philly was set to enter 2020 with just Nate Sudfeld, who has only three games of NFL experience under his belt, as the backup plan behind its franchise signal-caller.
Wentz's injury concerns are just a tad overblown (you can't script a late-hit-induced concussion in the playoffs after playing all 16 games, as was the case in 2019). But now, instead of simply hoping Sudfeld is sufficient as both the No. 2 and developmental passer behind Wentz, the Eagles have a genuinely rock-solid prospect in Hurts. Under Pederson and his revamped offensive staff, the 21-year-old national champion could simply sit and learn behind Wentz. He could step in either alongside or in place of Sudfeld in the event of an emergency. Heck, he could suit up on Day One like some have suggested.
Either way, the Eagles clearly own a better QB room, even if a double-dip at wide receiver or another skill position would've satisfied more fans. Let's not forget Philly spent its 21st overall pick getting Wentz a guy with similarities to Tyreek Hill. Worst-case scenario, the Eagles overspent on a backup after already adding a bona fide play-maker to their offense. Best-case scenario, Hurts is the selfless leader he was in college, becomes Wentz's sturdy No. 2 and/or develops into a starter and/or fetches the Eagles something big in a future trade.
Was his selection bold and risky, at least in the sense of passing on a chance to simply add more short-term help? Sure. Can it be written off from the jump? Absolutely not, chiefly because Hurts is too rock-solid of a young man and QB prospect to dismiss.