The Eagles are betting on Jalen Hurts, but is it the right decision?

Jalen Hurts
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts (1) throws a pass in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni once again doubled down on Jalen Hurts when asked about the QB position at the NFL Combine. But are they betting with more than they can afford to lose?

The Los Angeles Rams have not selected a player in the first round of the NFL draft in six years. And they are currently projected to be without a first-round pick until 2024. 

It’s a strategy that has never truly been enacted before by any other NFL franchise, but it’s one that has led Los Angeles to its first championship in 20 years. Trade every draft pick for proven talent + mortgage the future = win a Super Bowl. The methodology seems foolproof on paper

“When you think about the National Football League, it’s all about resource allocation,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said on Wednesday.

“Basically, every team has a number of draft picks. If you can get an edge either by creating cap room or by getting more draft picks, now you have more shots to take.”

Speaking with SB Nation and Bleacher Report NFL Analyst, Mark Schofield on the topic, Schofield had this to say.

“Rookie evaluations are an inexact science and art at best.  For those reading this, how well established were you at 21 or 22? From my own personal experience, I had to do a lot of growth from the time I was 22 to the time I was 27 or so. And I did not have to try and do that while navigating life as an NFL player. For the incoming rookies, many of them are facing some life-altering situations that perhaps not always get factored into the evaluation of what they can do on the field. There are so many variables from a draft evaluation standpoint, and so many evaluations get missed, that teams might look to build through free agency or trades as the Rams did, and move away from relying on the draft.”

“A few years ago I did a semester of a program called The Scouting Academy, a program put together by Dan Hatman, a former NFL scout with the Giants and the Eagles. Dan put in front of me at one point an exercise, asking me to rank the starting 22 positions on offense and defense in terms of importance, for a generic roster. For example, QB1 is probably at or near the top. But how do you rank the rest of the positions in a vacuum?”

CHARLOTTE, NC – OCTOBER 10: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) claps his hands during the game between the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles on October 10, 2021 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

What does this mean for Jalen Hurts?

The Eagles are armed with 10 draft picks in April. The allocation of the capital that they currently possess will shape the near and distant future of the franchise. Most of the discussion that has surrounded the organization thus far in the offseason in media and the fanbase alike has centered around the quarterback position.

Roseman and head coach, Nick Sirianni have been staunch in their belief in Hurts.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Roseman said during his press availability on whether his stance on Hurts as the Eagles starting quarterback remained intact.

The franchise is in a fascinating situation. Armed with a treasure cove of draft capital, coming off a playoff appearance, and a quarterback who is entering his third year, coming off his first year as a starter, on paper it seems like the franchise could be on the precepts of entering the NFL’s contending teams.

However, the current roster is not without its flaws.

Howie needs to fill some holes

The Eagles’ two starting safeties, Rodney McLeod and Anthony Harris are scheduled to hit free agency. The rest of the position is made up of rotational player Marcus Epps, special teams ace Andre Chachere, a former 4th round pick who has struggled to find his footing in the NFL K’Von Wallace, and former practice squad call-up Jared Mayden.

The Eagles have bargain shopped at linebacker throughout Howie Roseman’s tenure as general manager. In recent years names like Corey Nelson, L.J. Fort (who didn’t get the chance to start), Jatavis Brown, Nate Gerry, and Alex Singleton have manned the Eagles linebacker room, with the one shining star being T.J. Edwards. The team also selected Davion Taylor and Shaun Bradley in 2020 but the return on each player has been middling at best.

DeVonta Smith is without a doubt, the diamond of the Eagles receiver room. A clear blue-chip talent, Smith has legitimate All-Pro potential. In 2021, Quez Watkins put together a nice season. The 23-year old hauled in 43 passes on 62 targets for 647 yards along with a touchdown. Outside of those two, the Eagles passing game lacked production from any other wide receiver. JJ Arcega-Whiteside shined as a blocker, Jalen Reagor existed, and Greg Ward was rarely involved.

Would it make sense to push all the chips in on a sure thing at the quarterback position without having a roster that is at least near the same stratosphere as the quarterback you’d be acquiring? 

Should the Eagles be all-in on Jalen hurts?

That begs the question of how much can a quarterback truly change the fortunes of a team?

Schofield helped me answer this question.

“When thinking about quarterbacks, I am much more a fan of tiers rather than pure rankings. I like to think of quarterbacks in two different buckets: Quarterbacks you win because of, and quarterbacks you win with.

“Let’s look at two examples: Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. Brady is a quarterback that you win because of. He can raise the level of play in those around him and change the fortunes of a team. His combination of traits at the position, experience, knowledge, and ability to diagnose a defense and make the right decisions — having seen anything a defense can throw at a quarterback — makes his offenses more productive and those around him more productive. Sometimes games come down to just three to five plays that make the difference, and odds are in those moments, Brady will deliver.”

“For Garoppolo, he is that quintessential quarterback you win games with. Things need to be perfect around him for that team to be successful, and when they are not — as they were at the end of the NFC Championship game — he cannot deliver on those three to five plays that make the difference between winning and losing.”

“The problem? How many quarterbacks are there in that Brady tier? Maybe a handful.”

The question now for franchises to ask themselves before making such a deal: can the quarterback we acquire uplift the roster that we have into contention for a championship? 

Acquiring a quarterback over the age of 30 with a roster that isn’t quite ready to contend could blow up in a team’s face, but it also raises the ceiling of that respective team. For the Eagles, it’s a question of what is more valuable, the flexibility and alluring prospect of possessing 5 picks in the top 100 selections or pushing all the chips in for a sure thing at the quarterback position and betting that he can maximize the current iteration of the roster in all of its imperfections.

Patience is a virtue

Roseman is armed with three first-round picks. There is some discretion in that. He could elect to both maintain the optionality afforded to him by assembling a package for a 2023 1st round pick while still surrounding Hurts with talent in the present with the remaining two selections or he could utilize all three picks and infuse the roster with talented prospects in a draft class loaded with ability at positions the Eagles are bare in.

The Eagles have echoed sentiments that would lead you to believe they’re committed to Jalen Hurts.

Hurts isn’t without his flaws as a passer, but the potential he possesses is tantalizing. 

There is no linear path to the Lombardi trophy. 32 teams try to get it right every year and only one is left standing. There are a lot of questions personnel heads have to ask themselves and year after year. 31 get the answers wrong, and only one gets it right. 

For the Eagles, their patience and belief in Hurts could help them get it right once again.

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire