Jalen Hurts is one of the most polarizing, and interesting, quarterback prospects I can recall. Similar to Lamar Jackson, there are people convinced that he will be incredible and those convinced he will never be a franchise guy. I expected Lincoln Riley to get the best out of Jalen Hurts this season, but I didn’t expect the year he has had. Considering Hurts’ 2017 season prior to Tua was subpar (60.6% completion percentage, 8.2 YPA) I didn’t expect to see an NFL caliber quarterback. Yet, when I watch Hurts this season, that’s exactly what I see.
Strengths: Hurts is built like a running back, his athleticism doesn’t remind me so much of a Lamar Jackson or Mike Vick- that’s a bad, and lazy comparison. Hurts has adequate zip on his short and intermediate passes giving him the ability to effectively throw timing routes into tight windows. Hurts is generally very poised in the pocket, regardless of the chaos around him. Lacks elite level arm strength but has enough to succeed vertically. The leadership, charisma, and character of Jalen Hurts deserve an article all to itself. In his junior season at Alabama, he was relegated to a back up role on a team he had led to the National Championship game 2 years running. He only attempted 70 passes in 2018, he averaged 10.9YPA on a 72.9% completion percentage with an 8:2 TD to interception ratio. The improvement he showed under Lincoln RIley was nothing short of remarkable.
Weaknesses: Ball security continues to be an issue, particularly in the red zone when attempting to force passes into tight coverage. His anticipation has improved under Riley, but is still lacking in the area. Footwork remains inconsistent and leads to accuracy issues easily avoidable. Hurts loses a significant amount of accuracy when throwing the deep ball, but was better when they were back shoulder throws. It is a valid question as to whether or not Jalen Hurts can or will improve to the point of being a franchise quarterback, I’m not sure anyone debates the fact that he is not there yet. Concerns about his passing are valid, as are ball security and decision making. He doesn’t fit the mold the NFL is still accustomed to, and the team that drafts him will need to tailor the offense around what he excels at, especially early.
Final Thoughts: Jalen Hurts is the ultimate boom or bust in this draft class. He has a low floor, but a tremendous ceiling. I never would have imagined saying this two years ago, but I am all aboard the Jalen Hurts is a franchise quarterback train. I believe his mental strength, leadership and work ethic give him a fantastic chance. His passing is farther along than many believe. I’d draft Hurts in the first round, especially if it was a sit and learn situation with forward thinking coaches willing to tailor to the player’s strengths.
Pro Comparison: Vince Young