Jalen Hurts

Jalen Hurts underwhelms in first Senior Bowl practice

Jalen Hurts underwhelms in first Senior Bowl practice

MOBILE, Ala. — Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, a prospect pegged as a potential option for the Bears in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, struggled in his first Senior Bowl practice of the week, failing to throw with consistency or accuracy when targeting his South squad receivers.

This isn't an uncommon occurrence for quarterbacks participating in the Senior Bowl. It could take a few practices to develop rhythm and timing with a completely new set of pass-catchers, but there was a marked difference in Hurts' ball placement compared to fellow South team quarterback, Oregon's Justin Herbert.

RELATED: Who will the Bears be watching at the 2020 Senior Bowl?

Herbert is projected to be a top-10 pick, and while his footwork in bag drills didn't look anything remotely close to that high of a grade, his arm talent was (for the most part) on display throughout the practice.

The Bears' biggest draft needs center around tight end and offensive line, and there were a few obvious standouts from those position groups.

LSU tight end Stephen Sullivan was the most fluid and explosive route-runner on the South team which includes the likes of Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt) and Harrison Bryant (FAU). His wide receiver background was evident; he created easy separation and flashed the kind of downfield speed that will be an asset in the NFL. 

Pinkney, on the other hand, really struggled. He looked heavy-footed and forced his quarterback to make tight-window throws. It wasn't a great start for him.

One of the really interesting names to monitor over the next few days is Ben Bartch, the Saint John's offensive lineman who's making one of the biggest jumps in competition among all of this year's Senior Bowl participants. You wouldn't know it by how he performed on Tuesday, however. He was quick out of his stance, showed strong hands and a powerful base. He's going to be a riser from this game.

The best player on the field, bar none, was South Carolina defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw. He has a chance to jump into the top-10 with a strong week of practice, and if his first session was any indication of how this week is going to go, his stock is going to skyrocket. He was unblockable, including several reps where he bullied potential Bears target John Simpson (guard, Clemson) in one-on-ones. 

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Bears will get up-close look at QB Jalen Hurts in 2020 Senior Bowl

Bears will get up-close look at QB Jalen Hurts in 2020 Senior Bowl

The 2020 Senior Bowl, the all-star game that brings together the nation's top senior NFL draft prospects in Mobile, Ala., and unofficially marks the start of draft season, is two weeks away. The Bears won't be one of the two coaching staffs at the game (that distinction belongs to the Bengals and Lions), but they'll have an army of scouts and front-office personnel on hand.

One position Chicago's scouts will pay close attention to is quarterback, and one of 2020's top prospects was confirmed as participating in the game Monday.

Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts is this year's top dual-threat quarterback prospect, and with the incredible success enjoyed by Ravens starter Lamar Jackson, the copy-cat league that is the NFL is certain to pay extra attention to him.

Hurts completed 69.7% of his passes in his first season under Sooners coach Lincoln Riley. He threw for 3,851 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 1,298 rushing yards and 20 scores on the ground. His production was remarkable and while the traditional football scout will advise against ignoring the box score, Hurts' deserves some extra praise.

Still, Hurts isn't without his limitations. His accuracy can be spotty at times and his decision-making isn't first-round worthy, but as a second-round prospect, he'll be highly coveted. The Bears currently own two second-round picks (43 and 50), which could be within striking distance for Hurts.

That said, if Hurts has a big week in Mobile and dominates the 2020 NFL scouting combine, he could sneak into the back end of Round 1 and leave the Bears looking elsewhere on Day 2.

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Jalen Hurts' poor performance against LSU should give Bears pause in NFL draft

Jalen Hurts' poor performance against LSU should give Bears pause in NFL draft

The Bears will conclude their disappointing 2019 regular season Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, and depending on how quarterback Mitch Trubisky performs, an offseason highlighted by another quarterback quest could be underway.

This isn’t to say Trubisky will be replaced before a training camp and preseason competition, and it would be unreasonable to assume the Bears won’t give Trubisky every chance over the spring and summer to prove he deserves to remain the starter in 2020. But there will be at least a contender or two for his job on the roster, and one of them may come from the 2020 NFL Draft.

A popular name connected to Chicago during Trubisky’s unraveling has been Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. But his performance in the Sooners’ 63-28 loss on Saturday against LSU may have cooled some of the excitement for him as a potential QB for the Bears.

Hurts completed 15-of-31 passes for 217 yards and an interception. He added 43 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. It’s a box score that looks an awful lot like what Trubisky is capable of, right?

There were more than just statistical similarities to Trubisky in Hurts’ performance.

Hurts wasn’t consistently accurate, didn’t look overly comfortable in the pocket and offered his most upside when he was on the move. The last thing the Bears want to add in 2020 is another quarterback with the same limitations as Trubisky. And while Hurts’ season (and experience as a starter) is more impressive than anything Trubisky offered as a collegiate prospect, his raw skill set as a passer doesn’t project to be much better than what Chicago’s former first-rounder possesses.

An unfortunate reality with the NFL draft process is that a prospect’s last impression could be their most lasting impression.

Hurts, who entered Saturday’s game with an outside chance to sneak into the end of the first round, will all but certainly be available for the Bears’ in the second round barring an unbelievable performance at the Scouting Combine or his Pro Day.

The question general manager Ryan Pace must now figure out is whether Hurts’ failure in the College Football Playoff was impactful enough to remove him from the Bears’ draft plans in April.

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