2020 NFL draft grades: Eagles' Jalen Hurts pick is head-scratching on many levels

2020 NFL draft grades: Eagles' Jalen Hurts pick is head-scratching on many levels

Just when people were maybe coming to terms with the Jalen Reagor selection on Day 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft, the Eagles go ahead and do something totally inexplicable in Round 2. 

With needs at just about every position on the roster, and plenty of quality prospects available, the Eagles chose Jalen Hurts, a backup quarterback, with the 53rd pick in the draft. 

It's so off the wall, it's almost not even worth discussing the merits of Hurts as a player because, in theory, he should never see the field. 


The two prevailing theories here are: 1) Hurts can fill a role similar to that of Taysom Hill with the Saints, and 2) the Eagles are concerned Carson Wentz will never be able to stay healthy.  There are serious flaws with both lines of thinking. As far as the Hill comparison goes, if true, it's a gamble on multiple levels. 

Hurts certainly has the ability to be a weapon as a runner and receiver -- he rushed for over 3,000 yards in four seasons at Alabama and Oklahoma and caught five passes.

Hill wasn't a second-round pick though. He was an undrafted free agent. He scrapped his way up from the practice squad, played special teams, and last season lined up for all of 22% of the offensive snaps, which still isn't a lot. 

In other words, the Eagles didn't pluck some intriguing prospect off waivers and groom him over a period of years. They spent a premium pick on Hurts, who by the way might not be thrilled by the Hill comparison either, because he likely believed he would go somewhere to compete for an opportunity to start, not run with the kick coverage unit. 

Which brings us to the second point. While his medical history might be overblown, there's no denying Wentz has dealt with some sort of injury every year as a pro, and even going back to college. The Eagles needed to identify a long-term backup, if not in this draft, then soon, regardless of the health issues because quarterbacks, like all NFL players, tend to get hurt. 

But by using a second-round pick on Hurts, the Eagles immediately open up a can of worms that there are larger concerns about Wentz's future -- that he'll always be hurt, that the organization doesn't necessarily believe he'll be the franchise quarterback here two to three years now. 

This, of course, is preposterous. The Eagles just signed Wentz to a huge contract extension last year. He played all 17 games in 2019, and the concussion he suffered at the end was the result of a dirty hit. He's a phenomenal player, and all expectations are he should have a long career in Philly.

True or untrue, bringing Hurts into the equation creates the perception there is a quarterback controversy. And as soon as Wentz inevitably does miss a game or struggles for a few weeks, the moment Hurts so much as breaks an 80-yard run or hits Reagor on a bomb out of the wildcat, the drumbeat for change will grow, first from fans, then pundits, and perhaps eventually inside the locker room and NovaCare Complex. 

At best, Hurts, for all his talents and qualities, should wind up a high-end backup -- a luxury the Eagles can ill-afford -- and offensive gimmick, roles he may not be especially happy filling. At worst, he is a distraction, the physical embodiment of the self-fulfilling prophecy that Wentz will not finish his career here. 

The middle ground is a spot starter the Eagles keep around for a few years when, if they're lucky, they maybe get their second-round pick back in a trade down the road. That assumes he ever plays under center, and plays well when given the chance. Those are big ifs. 

Or, maybe Hurts makes Wentz expendable and available to trade. Who can say? The whole thing is wild. 

Did we mention the Eagles could use receivers, defensive linemen, defensive backs, linebackers, offensive linemen and a running back? 

For all we know, Hurts is going to be a great weapon, great backup, perhaps even a better quarterback than Wentz that makes everyone fine with moving on. 

Unfortunately, how good or bad Hurts is as a prospect is almost beside the point. Wentz is fine. The rest of the roster is not.

Just one more reason to worry about Wentz's impending demise. 

Grade: F 

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The top 10 worst performances ever by Eagles RBs

The top 10 worst performances ever by Eagles RBs

Even the best running backs have really bad days. So do the really bad ones!

Yesterday, we counted down the 10 greatest performances in Eagles history by running backs. Today, we celebrate the 10 worst!

Usual rule applies: No back can be listed more than once. Why? Nobody wants to read about 10 Michael Haddix games! 

1. Steve Van Buren, vs. Browns, Dec. 3, 1950 
The game:
Browns 13, Eagles 7, Cleveland Municipal Stadium
The stats: 10 carries, minus-2 yards
The story: Even Hall of Famers have bad games, and Van Buren had the worst game of his career against the Browns, who a few weeks later won the NFL Championship. Van Buren finished his career with a 4.4 rushing average. Without this game, he would have been at 4.5. The only game in Eagles history where a back had 10 or more carries and negative yards. And the 3rd-worst rushing performance ever by a Hall of Fame running back.

2. Ricky Watters, Sept. 3, 1995, vs. Buccaneers
The game:
Buccaneers 21, Eagles 6, Veterans Stadium
The stats: 17 carries, 37 yards, 2 fumbles
The story: The stats were bad enough, but what made this such a disaster for Ricky in his first game as an Eagle was his notorious explanation for a lack of effort on two late but catchable passes from Randall Cunningham: “Hey, I’m not going to trip up there and get knocked out. For who? For what?” Ricky apologized the next day and went on to have three straight Pro Bowl seasons. But he never did shake the “For Who, for What” tag.

3. Al Pollard, Oct. 19, 1952, vs. Browns
The game:
Browns 49, Eagles 7, Shibe Park
The stats: 5 carries, minus-11 yards
The story: Poor Al Pollard. It’s not easy to average negative 2.2 yards per carry. That’s the fewest yards in Eagles history on five or more carries and 11th-worst in NFL history by a non-quarterback. That one game drops Pollard’s career rushing average from 3.7 to 3.4.

4. Keith Byars, Oct. 26, 1986, vs. Chargers
The game: 
Eagles 23, Chargers 7, Veterans Stadium
The stats: 10 carries, 0 yards, 1 TD
The story: Here’s what Byars’ day looked like in order: +2, -3, -2, +7, +1, 0, -1, -3, -3, +2TD. He’s one of only three players in NFL history – and the only one in the last 65 years – with 10 or more carries, zero or fewer yards and a rushing TD. Byars’ 0 yards is the second-fewest in Eagles history on double-digit carries, two more than Van Buren against the Browns in 1952.

5. DeMarco Murray, Sept. 20, 2015, vs. Cowboys 
The game:
Cowboys 20, Eagles 10, Lincoln Financial Field
The stats: 13 carries, 2 yards
The story: A year earlier, Murray was a 1st-team all-pro and led the NFL in rushing for the Cowboys. But against his former team, he averaged 5.5 inches per carry (although he did catch 5 passes for 53 yards). His 2 yards are the fewest in franchise history on 13 or more carries and 9th-fewest in NFL history. It’s the worst rushing performance ever by a defending NFL rushing champion.

6. LeSean McCoy, Sept. 21, 2014, vs. Redskins
The game:
Eagles 37, Redskins 34, Lincoln Financial Field
The stats: 19 carries, 22 yards
The story: McCoy’s average of 1.16 yards is 5th-lowest in NFL history on 19 or more carries. In the second half, Shady had 14 carries for 11 yards, and in the 4th quarter he was 6-for-4 rushing. McCoy averaged 4.2 yards per carry that year. Without that game, it would have been 4.4. 

7. Michael Haddix, Sept. 22, 1985, vs. Redskins
The game:
Eagles 19, Redskins 6, RFK Stadium
The stats: 14-for-20 rushing, 1 catch, minus-3 yards
The story: Haddix had 38 career games with an average of 2.5 or worse. During his career – from 1983 through 1990 – only one running back (Tony Paige) had more (40). But his performance against the Redskins in 1985 was historic. His 1.4 rushing average is 3rd-worst in Eagles history on a minimum of 14 carries. But factor in his negative-3 receiving yards and you have 15 touches for 17 yards. That’s the 2nd-fewest scrimmage yards in Eagles history on at least 15 touches (read below for the only worse game). He’s one of only eight players in NFL history to average 1.4 yards per game or worse and have minus-3 receiving yards in the same game!

8. Bryce Brown, Dec. 9, 2012, vs. Buccaneers
The game:
Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21, Raymond James Stadium
The stats: 12 carries for 6 yards
The story: This is called coming back down to Earth. In the previous two games, filling in for injured LeSean McCoy, the rookie 7th-round pick rushed 43 times for 347 yards and four TDs. Needless to say it’s the worst performance in NFL history by a back coming off consecutive 165-yard performances. The 4th-lowest rushing average in Eagles history on 12 or more carries.

9. Heath Sherman, Oct. 6, 1991, vs. Buccaneers
The game:
Buccaneers 14, Eagles 13, Tampa Stadium
The stats: 35 carries, 89 yards
The story: When you have Brad Goebel at QB, you have to try to run the ball, and Rich Kotite tried and tried and tried and tried. The Bucs stacked the box, Heath Sherman kept pounding and he never got anywhere. Sherman’s 89 yards are 3rd-fewest in NFL history on 35 or more carries. Best part about it is that we blasted Kotite for giving Sherman 35 carries and Keith Byars and Robert Drummond a combined three carries. So the next week Heath goes 7-for-29 in a loss to the Saints and we ask Kotite why he didn’t get more carries, and Kotite flips out: “Last week it was too many carries, now it’s not enough carries! It’s ABSURD! It’s ABSURD!” 

10. Wilbert Montgomery, Dec. 24, 1978, vs. Falcons
The game:
Falcons 14, Eagles 13 [wild-card game]
The stats: 16 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, minus-5 yards
The story: Two years later, Montgomery would have one of the greatest games in NFL postseason history. But in the grim loss to the Falcons – that’s the one Mike Michel’s missed PAT cost the Eagles at least overtime – Montgomery had one of the worst games in NFL playoff history. His 19 yards are 3rd-fewest in NFL postseason history on 15 or more carries and his 14 scrimmage yards are the fewest in NFL postseason history and 3rd-fewest in NFL history in any game on at least 17 touches. 

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Emmanuel Acho gives epic defense of Doug Pederson

Emmanuel Acho gives epic defense of Doug Pederson

In a recent CBS Sports’ ranking of the top 10 head coaches in the NFL, Doug Pederson came in ninth. Ninth!

He was behind guys like Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay and Eagles fans weren’t very happy about it. 

After all, this is a head coach who has led the Eagles to three consecutive playoff berths despite staggering injuries. And in 2017, he led them to the franchise’s first Super Bowl win despite injuries to several key players, including Carson Wentz, who was likely the league’s MVP. 

But he was still ninth on this list and former Eagle Emmanuel Acho was having none of that on FS1’s Speak for Yourself. 

Most of the things Acho says in the video are things Eagles fans already know about. But they are things that he wanted FS1’s national audience to realize. Pederson really is one of the best coaches in the NFL and he deserves to have his name closer to the top of the list. 

Acho played for the Eagles from 2013-15, so he never played under Pederson. He spent his entire Eagles career with Chip Kelly as his coach. 

But there are still many players on the Eagles’ roster who were his teammates back then, so he has probably heard plenty of great things about Pederson. One of the most impressive parts about Pederson’s time as head coach is the total buy-in he gets from his players. His guys fight for him. 

That’s a big reason why he has been able to rally teams that have been decimated by injuries. No one wants to let Pederson down. In that respect, he’s an awful lot like Andy Reid.

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