Philadelphia Eagles: Debating the Jalen Hurts pick three weeks removed

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 28: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners scrambles with the ball during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 28: Jalen Hurts #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners scrambles with the ball during the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl against the LSU Tigers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Most people believe you don’t draft a quarterback when your franchise starter is in his prime. Yet the Philadelphia Eagles made a great decision drafting Jalen Hurts, despite having Carson Wentz under center.

In the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft last month, the Philadelphia Eagles did pretty much what everyone expected them to do with the 21st pick. They drafted a wide receiver. It may not have been the specific wideout many hoped they would take (Jalen Reagor over, for example, Justin Jefferson), but it was certainly the need everyone expected them to address.

In the second round of the draft, the Eagles decided to make the only controversial pick of the entire event by selecting quarterback Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. Was this brilliant or utterly foolish? Defying all logic rarely wins a team any points but this was an excellent pick by the Eagles for several reasons.

Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate the Philadelphia Eagles in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

More from NFL Spin Zone

Todd Salem:

Two varied schools of thought have come out of the Eagles’ selection and those ideas have continued to butt heads weeks later. One is the idea that there is value in having a usable backup quarterback (taking for granted whether or not Hurts will be that). And if any team is aware of that value, it is Philadelphia. Thus, using its second pick on a quarterback was smart (again assuming Hurts ends up being good).

The other competing idea is that Philly, much like Green Bay, wasted a very early draft pick on someone who, ideally, would not even see the field. This isn’t completely true with Hurts, as many suspect the Eagles may try to find snaps for him even with a healthy Carson Wentz but the point remains.

In the perfect situation, Hurts doesn’t help the Eagles at all on their quest to return to the Super Bowl. He only derives value if the team’s franchise quarterback goes down. Thus, it was a very stupid use of a high draft pick.

I can see both arguments. We already know the fallacy of Tom Moore‘s classic quote in regards to Peyton Manning potentially getting hurt. Moore said of Manning’s backups in Indy never getting reps, “Fellas, if ’18’ goes down, we’re f**d. And we don’t practice f**d.”

This is legendarily hilarious and a normally apt quotation. But the Eagles just proved a few years back that they could win the league title with their backup quarterback if he’s capable and ready.

Yet there’s also the fallacy that defenders of Idea A bring up: that most draft picks are misses anyway, so what was really lost with a backup being taken? How likely was it that the 53rd overall pick would become a star regardless?

This is also inane to me. Why use any draft picks then if you’re comfortable “wasting” one in this instance? If someone truly believes all draft picks, even early ones, are too unreliable to be used properly, they should want their GM to trade away all picks every season for veterans. Once that team’s cap is destroyed, maybe they’ll come back to the side of realizing building lineups through the draft is the only fiscally feasible way to create a full roster.

When the pick was first made, I was rather surprised and thought it pretty stupid. I was in camp B for sure. After having a lot of time to think it over, I’m still in that camp. If this is a team vying for a title, which it seems to be, especially coming from the NFC East, then you cannot use a second-round pick on someone who only helps in a worst-case scenario. And this isn’t even like turning the team over to Nick Foles.

This is a spread offense, rookie quarterback who got beat out for a starting job in college and had to transfer. Going back to my earlier caveat, we cannot reasonably take for granted that Hurts is actually going to be capable and ready if he gets forced into the lineup.

Now that the draft dust has settled, where do you fall on this argument, and has your opinion changed at all after sitting on it for a few weeks? Did Philadelphia make a theoretical good pick in the second round?

Dan Salem:

Most draft picks not panning out is likely the reason we see Bill Belichick and the Patriots trade away picks year after year, while stockpiling later round selections for trade fodder. This worked out for them… while they had a Hall of Fame quarterback under center.

New England has also been a master at hitting late-round selections and trading for the “right” players. They have a successful system, making the need for hitting your draft picks less necessary. Can we say the same thing about the Philadelphia Eagles? Did they waste their second-round pick on another quarterback?

I believe the Eagles made the right decision to draft a quarterback in the second round, with the assumption that they believe Hurts will mature into a starter. The reason I believe this is Carson Wentz’s history of injury.

He has been excellent when healthy but hurt for some part of nearly every season he’s played. Wentz is a risk at quarterback and not having a viable backup is an even greater risk. Does Wentz have only one or two more seasons left before injuries take him down? Will he turn a corner and have a long career as Philly’s leader under center? We just don’t know.

Hurts is as much an unknown as every rookie quarterback. One could argue that his unknown ability to play quarterback in the NFL is on par with the unknown surrounding Wentz’s health. Since having that specific Nick Foles who led your team to a freaking Super Bowl as your backup quarterback is a one in a million stroke of lightning in a bottle, it is smart to bring in a backup who you believe can and will start in the NFL.

Even Nick Foles has been unable to recapture the magic he found as the Eagles’ backup during that magical ride to glory. Trying to find a veteran like that is foolish. You need someone capable and Hurts is very likely capable.

NFL Uniforms 2020: Power rankings after offseason changes. dark. Next

Will Hurts steal the starting job from Wentz? This is irrelevant and the best-case scenario. If he becomes good enough to be the actual starter, then Philly has an embarrassment of quarterback riches and can trade one of their starters for a ransom of assets. The only situation that is bad occurs if Wentz gets hurt early in 2020 and Hurts is nowhere near ready to see the field. But you do not plan for injury to your best player.

You plan for a complete team, which includes a backup quarterback you can groom into an asset. I love this move. Too many teams swing and miss on draft picks. If you’re going to swing early as Philly did, it might as well be for a player at the league’s most coveted position. Plus, the Eagles needed a backup quarterback. I see no downside.