As we wait for the NFL free-agent quarterback dominoes to fall *cough* Tom Brady *cough* -- NFL teams are gathered in Indianapolis to meet with, critique and study the next crop of signal-callers.
This current group of quarterbacks is top-heavy, with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert all slated to go in the top 10. After that, it's a who's who of hit-and-miss prospects with intriguing skills and huge question marks.
The Raiders aren't viable for the top three. Burrow is bound for the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Raiders shouldn't make the move up for Tagovailoa or Herbert, as talented as they might be.
That leaves the middle tier of quarterbacks: Polarizing prospects like Utah State's Jordan Love, Georgia's Jake Fromm, Washington's Jacob Eason and Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts.
The Raiders have spoken with Fromm -- who I discussed here -- Love and Hurts.
The Athletic's Vic Tafur reported Wednesday that Hurts had a good meeting with the Raiders and the team is "intrigued by his upside."
Should the Raiders draft Hurts on Day 2 -- when they have three third-round picks -- the selection would be one with an eye on the future, hoping Jon Gruden can develop and mold the Alabama/Oklahoma product into a quarterback who can dominate the new age of the NFL.
During his time in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Norman, Okla., Hurts went 38-4 as a starter. He won the 2016 SEC Offensive Player of the Year award when he led the Crimson Tide to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Hurts eventually lost his starting job to Tagovailoa at halftime of the 2018 title game.
His only losses were to Deshaun Watson, Burrow, No. 6 Auburn and an upset loss to Kansas State last season. He steadily has improved as a quarterback during his four seasons.
Hurts is the ideal QB for the modern NFL. He has great mobility and will kill teams with his legs if he isn't contained. He's light on his feet, has a strong arm and really improved his deep-ball touch during this last season at Oklahoma under noted quarterback guru Lincoln Riley.
One of Hurts' best traits is his pocket awareness. As if he has eyes in the back of his head, Hurts constantly escapes danger by doing the unthinkable. He's very poised and his ability to extend plays and make something out of nothing is a skill that should be valued. He has all the traits to be a perfect weapon in an RPO-style attack.
He's great on the move as a roll-out passer.
Even at Bama, Hurts was a + rollout passer. Expect to see a lot of this at Oklahoma. pic.twitter.com/Drkf3y0p3H— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 2, 2019
As discussed, the deep-ball was much better at Oklahoma.
Nice deep ball right into Rambo's chest for a score. Wide open. 39 yards on the deep post pic.twitter.com/DqU88CRUkq— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 15, 2019
The improvisation is a plus.
One of the best evaded sacks turned into a play I've seen pic.twitter.com/vwbzhubk3O— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 14, 2019
His legs can be a big weapon.
Touchdown run on 4th and 3 pic.twitter.com/PkkK7Qhawx— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 15, 2019
So, what's not to like?
Hurts still has some growing to do as a passer who can move the ball effectively on NFL defenses. His anticipation at times was lacking and he seemed to have some issues moving off his first read when going through his progressions. While not inaccurate, Hurts sometimes has issues with ball-placement and will need to work on being more precise at the next level.
A big factor in his NFL success will be ball placement. He incorrectly throws this ball to the right, when Lamb was breaking to the left, away from the safety. pic.twitter.com/m2JtjQ0Olr— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) September 2, 2019
He also has a tendency to lose his accuracy when facing pressure.
An emerging negative for Hurts is how he's wild when throwing under pressure. This is the first time he paid for escaping like this and throwing cross body. Have to live another down sometimes. pic.twitter.com/Cg5NWC350A— Ian Wharton (@NFLFilmStudy) October 14, 2019
Hurts finished the season throwing for 38 touchdowns, 3,851 yards and eight interceptions.
Some wondered if Hurts would try and switch positions at the next level, but his answer was clear at the combine.
“Yeah you know, I’ve always been a team-first guy,” Hurts said Tuesday. “But I think I’m a quarterback. I think that’s that.”
If the Raiders do go into the 2020 season with Derek Carr as their starting quarterback, Hurts could be a nice developmental QB to sit for year or two in order to sharpen his skills.
Some polishing is needed, but Hurts has tremendous upside in today's NFL. The Raiders clearly see that, and a third-round pick would be worth the gamble.