Top-5 Eagles under 25: Will Jalen Hurts silence his critics?

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)

The Rules

For over the last half decade or so, one of the biggest complaints about the Eagles franchise has been their lack of young, high end talent. However, over the past few seasons, the team has drafted and traded for a number of young players that have already had an impact. This list will rank the top 5 players on this Eagles team who are 25 years of age or younger. The only other rule is that the players cannot be rookies, as it’s not really fair to rank a player who has never played professionally before. While these players are very young in their football careers, they still have significant roles on this team.

#3: Jalen Hurts

At #3 in the ranking, is the starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts. I feel as though this ranking may be controversial to some, seeing as though he is just about the hardest Eagles player to actually assess. In some circles, he would be too low and in some he wouldn’t even make the list, so I thought meeting in the middle of the top 5 would be a good spot for him.

In today’s NFL, quarterback is the most important position on the field, and the difference between being good or bad usually has to do with quarterback play. So far in 19 starts over 2 years, Jalen Hurts has, at a minimum, proved he can be a high floor starter and lead a team to moderate regular season success. 

His statistical numbers don’t usually tell the full story because of the style in which he plays and that can be taken positively or negatively. In 2021, his first full year as a starter, Jalen Hurts threw for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. His passing yardage is acceptable,in total, for someone in his position, but it’s the value of a lot of those yards that people question.

His highest yardage games from that season came in back to back losses against Dallas and Kansas City early in the season. Jalen tossed 326 and 387 yards respectively, but the team was never really in either game as they were both decided by multiple possessions.

On the other side of the equation, in some of the best games Jalen Hurts played last year, his yardage was considerably lower. In back to back weeks, similar to the earlier example, Jalen Hurts had some of his best performances of the season against Denver and New Orleans, posting 178 and 147 yards. Hurts showed flashes of being a great arm talent to being downright dreadful at times, and was not able to totally escape doubt for this upcoming season.  

The part of the game that Hurts really excels at his ability to take off with the football and be a dual threat quarterback. His escapability and mobility rivals the best in the game and he is undoubtedly one of the best running signal callers in the league. He led the Eagles last season with 784 yards on the ground and 10 touchdowns. His running ability added an extra element to an offense and was able to turn around the season when shifting to his strengths.

While the offense was limited by his passing ability, his running was able to help make up for that and make him more effective. To bring the two examples back in from earlier, in the losses I highlighted, he had no rushing touchdowns but had 3 combined in the wins. For the struggles of Hurts as a passer, he had just as many strengths as a runner, showing that those skills were able to translate to the next level.

It is this juxtaposition of what people normally come to expect from a quarterback and what Jalen Hurts gives you that make it so difficult to judge him consistently. His stats can be skewed to support any school of thought about him; but in reality, he is somewhere in the middle of what most think. So far, the Alabama and Oklahoma project has shown he is a high floor quarterback who has the potential and physical tools to climb the ranks if he can fine tune faults in his passing game like accuracy and getting rid of the ball quicker.

We know that the Eagles can win with Jalen Hurts, but the real question is if they can win because of him. This makes 2022 a huge turning point for the future of Hurts and the Eagles, seeing as he is not just a top young player, but the most important player in general in determining just how far the team can go. If he makes the right strides as a passer, other teams will need to be on the lookout.

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire