Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman wanted to make one thing clear, even as he was asked to emphasize the point multiple times late on Friday night after the team made the pick that surprised so many: Taking prolific Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft was not any kind of statement about the face of the franchise Carson Wentz, nor was it an indication that they have some sort of alternative role for Hurts, a dual-ability player who tore up college football for four seasons.
It was, Roseman and Head Coach Doug Pederson reiterated, a matter of liking a player very much at the game's most important position and eagerly making a second-round investment to add a unique talent to the quarterback room.
"We think that this is the most important position in sports, and we felt like this was a proven winner, a guy who is an incredible teammate. He's going to strengthen that quarterback room," Roseman said. "There's no doubt we have a Pro Bowl, 27-year-old quarterback (in Wentz), but we've seen the value of quarterbacks on our football team. We've seen the value of (quarterbacks on) other teams.
"This gives us another weapon in that room. This gives us another incredible teammate. This gives us somebody that is going to be incredibly supportive to our quarterback, and quite frankly, this is exciting. This is exciting. This is exciting for our quarterbacks. This is exciting for our football team, and this is the kind of decisions that we're going to make. And we're proud of it."
The selection of Hurts, who played for three seasons at Alabama and finished a collegiate career during which he compiled a 38-4 record as a starter and ended by finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2019 playing at Oklahoma, was a stunner, no doubt about it. On the clock in the second round at No. 53 overall and some options to add to a roster that had some needs, the Eagles went with a player who, in a best-case scenario, won't play in 2020 as Wentz and fifth-year man Nate Sudfeld lead the way at the position.
But this isn't about 2020 alone. It's about having a vision that the Eagles can make such an important position as strong and as deep and as disaster-proof as can be. In Wentz, the Eagles have a quarterback armed with a long-term and lucrative contract who is among the most talented and successful in the league. In a perfect scenario, Wentz plays every game and leads the Eagles deep into the postseason for the next 10 seasons. Sudfeld had taken such promising steps through the spring and summer in 2019 only to have his season turned upside down by suffering a wrist injury that sidelined him until early in the regular season. By then the Eagles brought veteran Josh McCown on board, and Sudfeld was bumped down to No. 3 on the depth chart. He re-signed with the Eagles through 2020 prior to the start of the March free agency period.
Now the Eagles are adding Hurts to the quarterback room. A dynamic talent who passed for 9,477 yards and 80 touchdowns and ran for 3,274 yards and 43 touchdowns in his four college seasons, Hurts brings a different dimension to the room. He's got a lot of learning to do and he has much work ahead of him, but Hurts is the kind of talent and locker room presence the Eagles felt they just couldn't pass up at 53.
"When a guy like Jalen Hurts is sitting there and he comes down the draft board a little bit, and his skill set and the upside with him and how he can add value to that room that we have and how he can enhance and help, there's a lot of value there, and so we're very excited about him," Pederson said. "He's a proven winner. We talked about it, we discussed it, that he's very talented. There's a lot of upside with him, and so, again, it just enhances our quarterback room and makes us better."
How much better Hurts makes the Eagles in 2020 remains to be seen, but that's missing part of the point. Roseman talked about the Eagles in the sense that "we are quarterback developers. We want to be a quarterback factory," and the goal is to have a three-deep situation with assets the Eagles can leverage now and in the future. There has been talk about using Hurts' unique abilities in a similar way that New Orleans at times relieves starter Drew Brees with Taysom Hill, and maybe that comes into play at some point, but that's not why the Eagles drafted Hurts. They took him because they fell in love with him through their scouting process. And the deeper they dug on Hurts, the more they liked.
That's why he's an Eagle.
His story is the dominant theme of this three-man draft class to date and it's going to be a topic of conversation for a long time, and the Eagles are OK with that. It's part of the picture on a roster that improved on Thursday with the addition of wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round of the draft and then Hurts and University of Colorado linebacker Davion Taylor – third round, No. 103 overall – on Friday night. Taylor needs to refine his game, having played only two games as a high schooler in Mississippi, then walking on and starring in junior college before gaining national notice at Colorado as a sideline-to-sideline playmaker whose best days are in front of him. Taylor adds tremendous athleticism to the linebacker corps and special teams.
We've still got a lot of draft ahead of us. The Eagles have five draft picks to go and then the post-draft period. They've got some room to add in the weeks ahead in free agency and the trade route. The roster is far from complete.
Certainly, though, it has taken on a new dimension through the first three rounds of the draft. The Eagles wanted to upgrade their speed and infuse the roster with youth here, and they've done that. They went beyond the predictions with pick of Hurts and when Roseman and Pederson and Vice President of Player Personnel Andy Weidl met the media for a second time via video conference late, late on Friday night, they spoke with confidence and conviction.
Hurts, the second of three draft picks, is someone who has the Eagles excited.
"He was a guy that we had a formal interview with at the (NFL Scouting) Combine and really came across as a mature guy, a humble leader, and really that 20 minutes we got to spend time with him, he made an impression on us, the teammate, the person he is, and it's just the value of what he's going to add to our team, to the culture can't be overlooked," Weidl said.
Roseman emphasized the positives that Hurts brings to the team.
"It really goes back to 2000 since I've been here," said Roseman, who had done his research and concluded that Hurts wouldn't have remained on the board had the Eagles passed on him at 53. "It is worth its weight in gold. It helps you sleep better at night to have these three quarterbacks. And these three quarterbacks, man, they are great people. They are really good players, and they're great teammates."