2020 NFL draft prospect rankings: QB Jalen Hurts

Yahoo Sports
2020 NFL draft prospect rankings: QB Jalen Hurts
2020 NFL draft prospect rankings: QB Jalen Hurts

92. Oklahoma QB Jalen Hurts

6-foot-1, 222 pounds 

Yahoo Sports draft grade: 5.77 — starter potential

The lowdown: After leading Alabama to a national-championship game appearance as a freshman in 2016, Hurts got the Crimson Tide back to the title game as a sophomore — only to be benched for Tua Tagovailoa at halftime of the eventual overtime victory over Georgia. Hurts stuck around as a backup QB (and occasional offensive weapon) in 2018, but transferred to Oklahoma as a graduate student for the 2019 season, where he was named a Heisman Trophy finalist running Lincoln Riley’s “Air Raid” offense.

Hurts is a challenging evaluation, as he’s far from a classic passer. But as the league opens its minds to more unorthodox passers, it’s easy to appreciate Hurts’ strong athletic traits, his development as a thrower and as one of the best competitors and accomplished leaders in recent college history.

Hurts has a thick frame and good athleticism to sting a defense as a runner and also frustrate pass rushers with his elusiveness. Starting with his backup season, Hurts made strides as a passer in limited duty and carried that over with an excellent statistical year at OU. He routinely hit deep passes in the wide-open scheme and followed that with an excellent throwing session at the combine. Scouts also noted his improvement on a daily basis at the Senior Bowl after a slow start to the week.

Hurts is not ready-made as an NFL thrower full-time in Year 1. He drops his eyes too fast, doesn’t process information as quickly on the field as he does on the whiteboard and holds onto the ball … Too. Darned. Long. According to PFF, Hurts averaged 3.08 seconds per pass attempt — the most of any college QB last season with at least 50 pass attempts.

During the interview process, evaluators became more enamored with Hurts as a leader and with his X’s and O’s knowledge. As the son of a high-school coach, he’s used to having the ball in his hands and performing under pressure. But there were too many instances where he struggled to anticipate windows and too often telegraphed throws. There’s also little question that throwing to (and playing alongside) elite talent helped boost Hurts’ productivity.

His maturity and charisma earn high marks from the NFL, and there’s a quarterback to be developed. Hurts shouldn’t be thrust into a big role early, outside of perhaps a change-of-pace series or two per game to give defenses a different look, similar to how the Saints use Taysom Hill or how the Ravens got Lamar Jackson’s feet wet early in 2018.

By the numbers: Interestingly, Hurts was below-average on short-pass completions last season and above-average (to excellent) to all other parts of the field.

Interesting fact: Hurts, who turns 22 in August, was born exactly one year to the day after Kyler Murray — last year’s No. 1 overall pick and the man he replaced as OU’s starting QB.

Draft range: We suspect Day 2, perhaps as early as in the later parts of Round 2. Even with his warts, Hurts brings rare intangibles and a unique style as a quarterback that will force a team to change its scheme to fit him.

Previous prospect rankings: Nos. 100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-66 | 65-61 | 60-56 | 55-51 | 50. DT Justin Madubuike | 49. CB Damon Arnette | 48. OT Ezra Cleveland | 47. WR KJ Hamler | 46. CB A.J. Terrell | 45. RB Cam Akers | 44. DL Ross Blacklock | 43. OT Josh Jones | 42. DT Jordan Elliott | 41. C Cesar Ruiz | 40. S Kyle Dugger | 39. EDGE Terrell Lewis | 38. WR Laviska Shenault Jr. | 37. S Grant Delpit | 36. Jonathan Taylor | 35. WR Brandon Aiyuk | 34. EDGE Zack Baun | 33. EDGE Yetur Gross-Matos | 32. CB Jeff Gladney | 31. QB Jordan Love | 30. CB Trevon Diggs | 29. EDGE A.J. Epenesa | 28. RB JK Dobbins | 27. WR Justin Jefferson | 26. WR Tee Higgins | 25. S Xavier McKinney | 24. WR Jalen Reagor | 23. CB Kristian Fulton | 22. RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire | 21. WR Denzel Mims | 20. LB Kenneth Murray | 19. RB D’Andre Swift | 18. QB Justin Herbert | 17. LB Patrick Queen | 16. WR Henry Ruggs III | 15. EDGE K’Lavon Chaisson | 14. WR Jerry Jeudy | 13. OT Mekhi Becton | 12. DT Javon Kinlaw | 11. OT Andrew Thomas | 10. OT Tristan Wirfs | 9. WR CeeDee Lamb | 8. OT Jedrick Wills Jr. | 7. CB CJ Henderson | 6. LB-S Isaiah Simmons | 5. DT Derrick Brown | 4. QB Tua Tagovailoa | 3. CB Jeffrey Okudah | 2. QB Joe Burrow | 1. Chase Young

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