Executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman says the Eagles are a better football team after free agency and the draft. We're putting his claim to the test, breaking down the depth chart position by position to examine whether the roster really improved or actually took a step back this offseason.
Up first: Quarterbacks, where the Eagles unexpectedly invested a second-round draft pick in Jalen Hurts.
Josh McCown may have been a great person to have in the quarterback room, but he's a career backup for a reason — plus, he's 40.
There's no guarantee Hurts' career will turn out any better than McCown's. At the very least, though, his mobility adds another dimension to the offense, whether that's in a Taysom Hill-like role or stepping in for Carson Wentz. Hurts has sub-4.6 speed and a plenty strong arm, not to mention displayed accuracy, toughness and leadership at the college level. You don't have to agree with the Eagles' use of a second-round pick, but Hurts is a gifted athlete.
Of course, say what you want about McCown. Sometimes there's just no substitute for 18 years of professional football experience — on or off the field.
Between Hurts, Nate Sudfeld and Kyle Lauletta, Eagles backups have attempted 30 NFL passes, so should one of them need to step in for Wentz, there's really no telling what you're getting. The trio has also spent one-third of McCown's time in the league and aren't mentoring Wentz behind the scenes, either.
It's safe to say Wentz was back to his old self by the end of 2019, a full two years removed from his ACL injury. Not only did he eclipse 4,000 yards passing for the first time. He was also back to making plays with his legs. Wentz can still clean up aspects of his game, recognizing when to give up on a play and either throwing the ball away or hitting the deck chief among them. He's also a relatively young quarterback with only 56 starts under his belt.
And after guiding the Eagles to the playoffs with Greg Ward, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Deontay Burnett as his primary receivers, he probably deserves a little slack.
Now that Hurts is in the fold, who's actually the backup quarterback here? Conventional wisdom would suggest the job belongs to the 53rd overall pick — but conventional wisdom kind of flew out the window when he was chosen.
Sudfeld might be in the mix for a number of reasons. He's entering his fourth year in the offense, whereas Hurts will have an abbreviated offseason to learn the system.
Then again, Sudfeld was supposed to be the backup last season, and the Eagles wound up signing McCown in August, so it's unclear how much trust is there. If Hurts develops quickly, perhaps Sudfeld is traded or released, with Lauletta serving as the emergency quarterback.
Better or worse?
McCown's value to the Eagles was rooted more in the knowledge he could impart to Wentz than what he does on a football field. But while Hurts has much greater upside, will he be ready to perform at a high level as a rookie? Clearly, the club doesn't believe Sudfeld is a better option than McCown.
Yet, looking back to the playoffs, when McCown entered the game against the Seahawks, he didn't move the offense across the goal line. Even if Hurts isn't the most polished passer right away, you have to believe his mobility could provide a spark at least. Nor could Sudfeld have done much worse.
Weigh the expectation Wentz continues to gradually improve, and while it may be close, this is definitely a more talented group.
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