It’s convenient to compare Jalen Hurts to Taysom Hill, but it’s a lazy narrative and Hurts is a better player.
After the Green Bay Packers drafted Jordan Love, and moved up to get him, the Philadelphia Eagles made their own interesting and criticized quarterback draft pick by taking Jalen Hurts in the second round. The criticism has diminished a little bit since, but the Eagles did set aside more urgent needs to draft Carson Wentz’s backup.
The Eagles seem to have a plan for Hurts, including getting him on the field with Wentz. Wentz also has failed to finish the last three seasons healthy, so having a backup better than Nate Sudfeld was an easy order. And that leaves aside the value of the quarterback position on the whole.
The idea of the Eagles putting Hurts on the field in a multi-faceted role has invited comparisons to how the New Orleans Saints use Taysom Hill. Hill is a quarterback/tight end/wide receiver/running back Swiss Army knife player, with more real life value than fantasy football value even with a recent position eligibility switch.
Hill had multiple injuries in college at BYU, which is something to factor in along with offensive system and opponents. But he completed just over 58 percent of his passes during his career, with 43 touchdown passes and 31 interceptions. He also has just 13 regular season pass attempts in the NFL.
Last season at Oklahoma, Hurts completed 69.7 percent of his passes with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He was also a formidable runner, with 1,298 rushing yards and 20 more touchdowns on the ground (17 red zone rushing touchdowns).
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell put it best, with a dive into how Hurst could be effectively deployed.
Hurts is not a receiver. He’s not a running back. He’s a true quarterback who also can serve as an effective runner. The Eagles can make use of those skills, even while Wentz is healthy. To start, the Eagles (or Wentz himself) have been aggressive about sneaking their starter. Wentz carried the ball 14 times on third or fourth down with 2 yards or less to go last season, which was as frequently as Ravens QB Lamar Jackson carried the ball in the same situations. Only the Bills’ Josh Allen ran the ball more frequently in short-yardage last season.
It’s easy to imagine a scenario in which the Eagles sub in Hurts in those situations. He carried the ball 12 times in short-yardage situations over the past two seasons, converting 11 for first downs or touchdowns.
Hurts could line up in the backfield with Wentz at times, but he will almost surely not be asked to catch passes like Hill occasionally does. Even with that key difference in broader utility, Hurts supplies some dramatic differences of his own. He can actually throw the ball effectively, and projects to be a solid or even top-end NFL quarterback if given the room to develop.
Comparing Hurts to Hill is convenient, and an unfair pigeonhole. Hurts is a better player right now, with a higher ceiling down the road to boot.