The impossible decision the Eagles have to make

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The impossible decision the Eagles have to make originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The biggest question facing the Eagles today is one they can't honestly answer.

Should they stick with Jalen Hurts or draft a quarterback?

The immediate future of the franchise depends on them getting this right. And the scary thing is there’s no way they can know.

There is just no possible way Howie Roseman, Nick Sirianni and the rest of the Eagles’ brain trust can sit there in the NovaCare Complex and decide with any degree of certainty what they have in Hurts.

After 3 1/2 games? Playing behind that offensive line and those receivers? In an offense where the running game was virtually non-existent?

Nobody can evaluate Hurts beyond this: There were moments where he looked really, really good and moments where he looked really, really bad.

Like every young quarterback.

It’s not enough to go on.

Ty Detmer, Kevin Kolb and Bobby Hoying were a combined 8-3-1 with 18 TDs and 9 INTs in their first four career starts. They were 15-32-1 with 61 TDs and 68 TDs the rest of their careers.

Conversely, Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb were a combined 2-6 with 6 TDs and 10 INTs in their first four starts. But we all know how their careers went after that.

Nobody knows after four games.

But literally any team that has a top-10 pick and doesn’t have an established quarterback is going to consider drafting one. You have to. That’s where you find guys like Peyton Manning, Josh Allen or Pat Mahomes.

There are always exceptions. Drew Brees was a 2nd-round pick. Russell Wilson was a 3. We all know Tom Brady was a 6.

But your best chance at nailing a franchise QB is in the first round. High in the first round.

There’ve been 58 Pro Bowl QBs drafted since 2000. Nearly half (28) were taken in the first 12 picks. Three were taken later in the 1st round, six in the 2nd round, four in the 3rd round, four in the 4th round and then 13 in various spots in the 5th round and beyond or undrafted.

The 2nd-round is the second-most likely place to find an elite QB, and the first 12 picks is nearly five times more likely.

And the Eagles pick at No. 6.

And this is only the third time in the last 20 years they’ve had a top-six pick and only the sixth time in 45 years. And we know they consider themselves a Quarterback Factory.

So these chances don’t come along very often.

That's what makes this such a difficult decision.

If you take a receiver or a corner or something else at No. 6 and go with Hurts, maybe you win a Super Bowl with him at some point but remember, Brees, Brett Favre and Ken Stabler are the only 2nd-round picks ever to win a Super Bowl.

And if Hurts isn’t that guy, who knows when your next opportunity will come to pick this high? The Eagles didn’t draft in the top 10 between Corey Simon in 2000 and Lane Johnson in 2013.

Maybe Hurts is awful and you get right back there in 2022 and draft your quarterback. Maybe he’s elite and you don't have to worry about it for a decade.

It’s the huge middle ground that’s so worrisome. He’s good enough to keep you competitive but not good enough to win anything.

Then you're stuck outside the top-10 without a franchise QB.

Now, drafting a guy in the first few picks is a risk too. Nobody knows if Justin Fields or Zach Wilson or Trey Lance will be The Guy either. Nobody needs to be reminded of Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler or Akili Smith.

But pick early in the 1st round and you have history on your side.

The Eagles really put themselves in a ridiculous position last April. Drafting Hurts set into motion a series of events that threw the most important position on the team into chaos.

And all they can do now is guess what they have and guess what they need. They can’t afford to be wrong.

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