Eagles 2022 season: Jalen Hurts on list of most important players

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No surprises here: Hurts is most important Eagle of 2022 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2022 season.

25. Quez Watkins
24. Gardner Minshew
23. T.J. Edwards
22. Marcus Epps
21. Landon Dickerson
20. Jake Elliott
19. Brandon Graham
18. Jordan Davis
17. Kyzir White
16. Avonte Maddox 
15. Nakobe Dean
14. Fletcher Cox
13. James Bradberry
12. Miles Sanders
11. Josh Sweat
10. DeVonta Smith
9. Dallas Goedert
8. Javon Hargrave
7. Jordan Mailata
6. Darius Slay
5. Lane Johnson
4. A.J. Brown
3. Jason Kelce
2. Haason Reddick
1. Jalen Hurts

We’ve reached the end of our countdown and it should be no surprise that quarterback Jalen Hurts takes the top spot.

Hurts, 23, is entering his second full season as the Eagles’ starter and with a good showing has a chance to earn a new contract and the right to be called the next franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.

For that to happen, though, Hurts will need to improve. He knows it, his coaches know it, the front office knows it. It’s evident. But if there’s one thing the Eagles know about Hurts, it’s that he’s going to do everything in his power to maximize his potential in the NFL.

That belief rises to the highest levels within the organization.

“We have a young, 23-year-old playoff quarterback who gets better every year in college and in the pros,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said this offseason. “He’s had really one full year. No one knows where that’s going to end up. What you do know is you have a guy that is incredibly dedicated, excellent leader of men. Players around him gravitate toward him.

“He will do everything and anything to get better and work on every weakness he has and try to maximize every strength he has. That’s why we’re committed to Jalen at age 23. Who knows what the future holds, right?”

So this isn’t about Hurts reaching his ceiling, it’s about how high that ceiling can be. That’s what the Eagles have to figure out in 2022.

In 2021, his first full year as a starter, Hurts had some really good moments and he absolutely improved from what we saw of him as a rookie. In 15 starts, Hurts completed 61.3% of his passes for 3,144 yards with 16 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. He also ran for 784 yards and 10 more scores.

He did all that while leading a team that finished with four wins the previous year into the playoffs.

The problem was that the Eagles were crushed by the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers in the wild card round and Hurts had one of his worst performances of the season. Right or wrong, that game really altered the perception of Hurts in the city.

By all accounts, Hurts has worked hard this offseason to get better. He’s been attacking the areas where he needed improvement and we saw a sort glimpse of that during OTAs.

“Jalen looks really good,” Dallas Goedert said. “Just him going through his reads, his progressions, I feel like the ball’s got a little more zip on it, he’s getting it out a little bit quicker, you see kind of a 1-2-3 throw. He doesn’t have as many hitches, he’s seeing the game faster, which is really promising.”

Because Hurts is still on his rookie contract as a second-round pick, the Eagles have used the cap space that would normally go toward an expensive quarterback to bolster the roster around him. Think about the Seahawks early in Russell Wilson’s career or even the Eagles in 2017 when Carson Wentz was still on his rookie deal.

This offseason, the Eagles added A.J. Brown to an offense that already included DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Quez Watkins, Miles Sanders, Kenny Gainwell and one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Howie Roseman and the front office have seemingly provided Hurts with all the pieces to prove he’s a franchise quarterback and have eliminated any excuses if he isn’t.

If you look at the top 10 of this most important list, the presence of Hurts is felt beyond his spot at No. 1. His center came in at No. 3. His top targets came in at 4, 9 and 10 and his two tackles came in at 5 and 7. The Eagles have serious playoff aspirations in 2022.

They’ll go as far as Hurts takes them.

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