NFL Draft 2020: 5 possible explanations for Eagles' Jalen Hurts pick

NFL Draft 2020: 5 possible explanations for Eagles' Jalen Hurts pick

The Eagles entered the 2020 NFL Draft with plenty of question marks at positions like wide receiver, linebacker, and the general secondary area.

So general manager Howie Roseman's decision to select quarterback Jalen Hurts with the No. 53 pick on Friday night seems like a complete non sequitur, a pick that simply makes no sense.

Fans certainly felt that way. I know I did.

But there has to be some explanation for the decision, so here's a look at five theories that popped up on social media Friday night, which might justify what just happened.

1. Carson Wentz's injury history

Is it possible the Eagles are worried about Carson Wentz's health? It makes the most sense. Wentz, 27, played in all 16 regular season games in 2019, the first time he's done so since his rookie season, but he exited his first playoff game with an early concussion. He missed the last three games of the 2017 regular season with a torn ACL, along with the ensuing Super Bowl run, and then missed five games in 2018 with nagging injuries, including a back problem. 

Here's what NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank thinks the Hurts pick means for Wentz's health concerns:

You don’t draft a quarterback in the second round when you have a $100 million quarterback just reaching his prime unless you have grave doubts about his ability to stay healthy.
Unless you seriously doubt his ability to navigate his way through a football season, from opening day through the final snap of the postseason.

None of these injuries are connected, but between his first four seasons in the NFL and his injury history during his college days, it's technically possible the Eagles' front office is trying to future-proof its organization, despite Wentz signing a huge extension before the 2019 season began.

2. A Taysom Hill-style role

In the immediate moments after the Hurts pick, some fans and NFL observers floated the idea of Roseman eyeing a Taysom Hill-style role for Hurts in the Eagles' offense next season. Hill, the backup quarterback for the Saints who was used in a slash-style role, sometimes running the wildcat offense and sometimes throwing it, has had moderate success in some spots as a spell for Drew Brees, and as a way to throw opposing defenses into confusion. 

It's technically possible Roseman and the Eagles' coaching staff see a way to use Hurts' talents - he ran 614 times for 3,274 yards and 43 touchdowns during his college career - to their advantage:

It's especially possible, considering Wentz's mobility has put him in harm's way in years past.

3. Picking for value

Sometimes, when teams don't see an immediate and obvious fit between available players and their positions of need, they simply draft the best player available. 

Was Jalen Hurts the best player available at No. 53? It feels like a stretch, despite his prolific college success. But perhaps Roseman and the Eagles' evaluators see Hurts as a second-round quarterback talent, and didn't like their options. 

Baylor wide receiver Denzel Mims, LSU cornerback Kristian Fulton, and Iowa pass rusher A.J. Epenesa were all available at No. 53, which makes this theory... confusing, if true. But you never know.

4. Trade options?

As the pick rolled in, some wondered aloud: Are the Eagles going to trade Hurts for more picks later in the draft? With just one pick in the third round, Roseman would probably like to have more options in a deep draft class. (Of course, by this logic, he should probably use his pick at No. 53 in such a deep class, but we digress.)

The problem with this line of logic is that there aren't any immediately obvious teams who need to fix their quarterback situation, and couldn't have done something about it earlier in the draft. Washington's QB situation is odd, but they passed on Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert at No. 2 to take Chase Young. Carolina's situation is similarly unclear, as is New England's, but both teams had a chance to take someone like Jordan Love in the first round if they wanted a young project QB with a high ceiling.

5. Backup QB concerns

Knowing that Wentz might be considered injury prone, as we touched on earlier, maybe the Eagles' front office sees a healthy quarterback as the only thing between their team and a deep playoff run. (I would disagree, but I am not in charge.) 

It's possible that the Eagles, with Josh McCown riding off into the sunset, weren't comfortable taking Nate Sudfeld into the 2020 season as the team's backup, even though they would probably have other opportunities and avenues to address this concern as the offseason continues.

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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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