There seems to be a consensus on the top three quarterbacks in this draft class. Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, and Justin Herbert will all be first round picks, which each of them going as high as top-10. Then there is the next tier of passers, including Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm, who are likely second or third round players.
One QB in that second tier, however, has perhaps the widest range of places he can be selected. Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts has been mocked anywhere from late-first round to the third and even fourth round. His draft position odds on BetOnline also reflect that, with individual options for the first three rounds as well as an option for round 4-7.
Today, we’re taking a look at Hurts, some of the draft buzz that is surrounding him, and using it to figure out when this talented dual-threat QB will hear his name called.
The 21-year old Hurts began his college career at Alabama, starting in his first two seasons. He was the SEC offensive player of the year in his freshman year, throwing for 23 touchdowns and rushing for nearly 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns. After a strong sophomore season, Hurts was benched at halftime in the National Championship for Tagovailoa.
As a junior, he was the primary backup for the season, but came in to replace an injured Tua during the SEC championship, leading the Crimson Tide to victory. However, after that season, Hurts made the decision to transfer to Oklahoma for his final year of eligibility. With Oklahoma’s Heisman-winning QB Kyler Murray off to the NFL, Hurts would be the starter from day one.
Playing in Lincoln Riley’s high-octane offense, Hurts flourished in Norman. The dual-threat star finished the season with 3,851 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air, while also adding 1,298 rushing yards and a staggering 20 rushing touchdowns as well. He was named the Heisman Trophy runner-up behind Burrow, and led the Sooners to the College Football Playoff.
It should be obvious that Hurts’ greatest strength comes with this speed and athleticism. He accelerates when he runs just like a running back, and also has good footwork to evade tacklers. As a passer, he has good arm strength and is accurate with short to intermediate passes. Finally, he is universally praised for his composure, decision-making, and leadership, and has a strong winning pedigree.
As for weaknesses, Hurts seems to lack a lot of QB instincts, which include passing anticipation and reading a defense during the play. He was a one-read passer most of the time, meaning that if his first option wasn’t there, he would likely look to run instead. He also struggled a little bit with holding onto the football, racking up 19 career fumbles.
Possible Landing Spots
According the Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, both the Packers and Chargers have held virtual meetings with Hurts. Los Angeles, who owns the No. 6 pick in the first round, is expected as of now to select a QB, but could target Hurts later in the draft if they decide to pass on Herbert or Tagovailoa.
Green Bay is an interesting spot for Hurts. Rumors have been flying about the Packers looking for a QB of the future, as Aaron Rodgers is already 36 years old. Currently, they own pick No. 30 in the first round, so they could go Hurts with that pick if they wanted. However, with wide receiver considered a very pressing need for them, a second or even third round selection for Hurts seems more likely for Green Bay.
Another team to watch may be the Patriots. After Tom Brady departed in free agency to Tampa Bay, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. said New England is interested in Hurts. Currently, the Patriots own pick No. 23 on Thursday and don’t have a second round pick, but Kiper believes they could trade up into the second round to select Hurts if he was there.
Finally, don’t sleep on the Raiders. Aside from their two first round picks, Las Vegas owns picks 80, 81, and 92 in the third round. Hurts is someone they have been monitoring for a while, and with no guarantee Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota is on the team next season, the Raiders could take Hurts and groom him to be their next QB.
Odds (according to BetOnline)
Round 2: -125
Round 3: +150
Round 4-7: +575
Round 1: +1200
As you can see, there are varying degrees of confidence to when Hurts will get drafted. But based on his skills, his deficiencies, and his upside, I think late second round is where I see him going. There will be some teams who see him as a player similar to Lamar Jackson, the reigning league MVP, and will want to make sure they don’t miss on him. So I’m picking a round 2 selection for Hurts at -125, with Green Bay and New England as the most logical landing spots.