PHILADELPHIA - A mock draft to the circular filing cabinet?
As shocking as that might seems to some, speculation that the Eagles could take a quarterback at No. 6 overall in next month's NFL Draft took a major hit on Monday when ESPN's Chris Mortensen claimed Eagles' owner Jeffrey Lurie has instructed his personnel department and new coaching staff to build around second-year signal-caller Jalen Hurts.
“Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Eagles, has basically sent the message to his personnel department and his general manager Howie Roseman that he wants to do everything he can to help Jalen Hurts be successful and not bring in somebody to compete for the job," Mortensen said. "Now they have a new head coach in Nick Sirianni, he understands what the owner wants, the owner gets."
Hurts, of course, took over for the now-deposed Carson Wentz at Green Bay on Dec. 6 of the 2020 season before starting the final four games. The No. 53 overall pick in the last years draft, Hurts showed playmaking ability as both a passer and a runner at times over the final month also plenty of flaws including a dismal 52.0 completion percentage while admittedly playing behind a suspect offensive line and with a weak supporting cast at the skill positions.
The offense did seem to have a little more juice with Hurts under center than Wentz, who will be dealt to Indianapolis at the start of the new league year for a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick which could become a first after the former QB1 stays the starter with the Colts.
Later in his interview, Mortensen further doubled down.
“Jalen Hurts is the quarterback for this year,” Mortensen said. “They don’t want to bring in competition for him.”
Mortensen noted that there isn't unanimity on Hurts inside the NovaCare Complex but Lurie is calling the shots.
"I would not report the Eagles have internal unanimity on Hurts as QB1 but sources say the boss, Jeffrey Lurie, has instructed his group to prioritize making Hurts successful in 2021 as opposed to creating a true competition," Mort wrote.
The report takes on further significance because Mortensen has had a direct line to the top of the organization over the years.
After firing Doug Pederson, in large part due to disagreeing with the Super Bowl-winning coach's plan for his coaching staff, Lurie was asked if he's gotten too involved in football decisions in recent years.
"I would say my involvement has been the same for about 25 years," the owner claimed. "I think that what I tend to do is to ask a lot of questions and to understand where we're coming from strategically and performance-wise, and it's stood us in a good way because it's allowed me to transition when we've needed to, make coaching decisions that have worked out, at least often in the short run or long run, and allowed us to be able to have a finger on the pulse of what could take place.
"When we have a bad season, I look at myself as much as I look at anybody else, but I think we have a great infrastructure. I think we've got good people all throughout the building, and it's a lot of the same people that built the championship team. I think our track record in the last 20 years, how many NFC titles, playoff appearances, and appearances in the NFC Championship Game, are some of the metrics I look at. I'll compare our record with almost anybody.
"I think the involvement's good. You never want to be too involved. You never want to micromanage, and I'm very, very sensitive to that. You've got to trust the people around you, and first, bring in the right people around you, and then trust them."
To date, the Eagles have not publicly committed to Hurts as the 2021 starter although in hindsight the hiring of QB coach Brian Johnson, who has a relationship with the former Heisman Trophy runner-up, may have been a clear signal of Lurie's involvement.
It would also eliminate quarterbacks like Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones at No. 6 overall and shift to focus to the top playmakers on the board - LSU WR Ja'Marr Chase, Alabama WRs DeVonta Smith, and Jaylen Waddle, as well as Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
Whatever happens, it's not optimal to tip your hand seven weeks before the NFL Draft and it's even less optimal to have an owner involved in personnel decisions.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Monday and Thursday on The Middle with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, former Eagles OT Barrett Brooks streaming live on both PhillyVpice.com and SportsMap Radio. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.