The Eagles selected quarterback Jalen Hurts on Friday night.
Not after watching him fall. Not in the late fourth round. Not in the fifth.
No, they did it with the 53rd overall pick, a stunning decision by a front office that just one year ago handed quarterback Carson Wentz a record-setting contract.
“I want to be very clear, and I think I'm speaking for Doug and Andy, Carson is 100 percent. He is a Pro-Bowl, young quarterback that we're totally excited about,” Howie Roseman said. “The decision to draft Jalen Hurts is independent of Carson Wentz. This is about who we are, what we believe in and what we think this player is about. Period.”
As the rest of Philadelphia and the NFL tries to make sense of the pick, here are some thoughts and what the decision means for Wentz, Hurts and the Eagles:
That has to hurt for Wentz, who just dealt with perhaps the biggest backup distraction in the history of Philadelphia with Nick Foles. Hurt doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring, but he does the a 2nd-round pick invested in him and was probably one of the most-known college players in the draft. This isn’t Clayton Thorson. This is a player everyone in the Eagles’ locker room will know and will be talking about. This is a player that coming into the draft was viewed as a potential starter.
That won’t change the fact in Philadelphia that Wentz is the starter, but Howie Roseman is a smart man, and he knew what the reaction to picking Hurts would be — so much so that he called Wentz Saturday morning to tell him they might pick Hurts. Roseman said Wentz gave his blessing, but it is hard to imagine Wentz would have said anything else.
The Eagles can shout from the rooftops they still believe in Wentz. They are almost certainly telling the truth.
But the fact they even need to say it means they know there is a chance Wentz might not know it, and that is not a great thing for your franchise quarterback to have to deal with.
Take away the Wentz dynamic, and Hurts is a very intriguing prospect. He has a strong arm, he can move in the pocket and is always a threat to make a play with his legs. If everything goes right, however, Hurts will never play a snap as the starting quarterback for this team during his rookie deal. That has to be deflating.
What is a perfect result?: It is clear what the outcome for a first-or-second round player should be — a starter. That isn’t the case with Hurts, as him turning into a starter would be the Wentz era is over, something the team doesn’t want to happen. On-the-field, like with Foles, Hurts’ success can only come at the expense of Wentz.
Off-the-field, let’s say everything works out. Hurts develops into a great player, shines in the preseason and the Eagles can trade him later on. The best example is what the New England Patriots did with Jimmy Garoppolo (although he was in someways drafted to be the successor to Tom Brady). The Patriots selected Garoppolo with the 62nd overall pick in the second-round pick in 2014. He played sparingly, but was developed and eventually traded midway through his fourth season for another second-round pick.
Using that same timeline, Hurts would result in a second-round pick in the 2024 draft.
It is going to take a lot to go right, or for things to go wrong with Wentz, for the selection of Hurts to turn into a smart move by the Eagles.