NAME: Jalen Hurts
SCHOOL: Oklahoma University (transferred from Alabama)
Hurts is one of the more intriguing quarterbacks in this year’s draft class. He started in his first two years at Alabama, yet he lost his job to Tua Tagovailoa in the second half of the national championship game as a sophomore. Tagovailoa held on to the starting role, so Hurts served in a backup capacity as a junior. He then transferred to Oklahoma as a senior/graduate transfer, and he had arguably the best season of his career. Is he Tim Tebow, or is he Kyler Murray? That is the question the Colts must answer if they wish to select him in the early-middle rounds of the draft.
Hurts was a captain at both Alabama and Oklahoma. His coaches and teammates love him, and he is a weight room warrior. Not many players would stay at Alabama (or elsewhere) after being supplanted, but Hurts supported Tagovailoa and respected the decision his coaches made. What’s more, he stayed engaged in the team’s preparation and led them to a 2018 conference title after Tagovailoa was hurt against Georgia.
Alabama qb @JalenHurts has grown tremendously as a passer this year. If #Tua's ankle forces him out of the game again, the Tide are in good hands. Here's why: #CFBPlayoff #OUvsBAMA #BoomerSooner #RollTide
— Trevor Matich (@TMatich) December 29, 2018
As is the case with many athletic quarterbacks, Hurts often looks to run when things break down around him. That isn’t necessarily a detriment, but it needs tweaking. Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson, and Patrick Mahomes buy time with their legs. Andrew Luck bought time with his legs. Hurts’ challenge, though, is to keep his eyes downfield while scrambling instead of shifting directly into runningback mode. Impatience and inaccuracy cost Tebow his NFL career. Hurts showed an improvement in this category under Lincoln Riley’s tutelage, but it will determine how well he does as a professional.
As discussed in the Jacob Eason profile, whoever the Colts draft is not likely to see the field much in 2020 or even 2021. Frank Reich mentioned using Jacoby Brissett for a few plays a game in a Run-Pass-Option (RPO) package. Drafting Hurts allows the team to keep RPOs in the playbook while also moving on from Brissett–either by trade or release. Hurts is a more capable runner than Brissett, and giving him simplified keys in a read-based scheme could help him gain confidence while learning behind Philip Rivers. While he could always go off the board sooner, expect the Colts to look at Hurts in the 44-75 range on day two of the draft.