Top Quarterbacks in NFL Draft: Jalen Hurts

Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts checks in at No. 5 in our ranking of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.
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Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts checks in at No. 5 in our ranking of the top quarterbacks in the NFL Draft.

Jalen Hurts is a winner.

At Alabama in 2016, Hurts led the Crimson Tide to the national championship game, a game they lost on the final play. In 2017, he helped guide the Crimson Tide to the national championship.

In 2018, he lost his job to phenom Tua Tagovailoa. With degree in hand, he transferred to Oklahoma, started immediately and finished as runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. A second-team All-American and a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, Hurts completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 3,851 yards with 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Plus, he rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 more scores. With one receiving touchdown, he led the nation with 53 total touchdowns in sending the Sooners to the playoffs.

“I think it’s something that’s been unprecedented,” Hurts said at the Scouting Combine. “You’re talking about just being able to go there and without any time in their system and this year putting my name in the same air as the last two first overall picks. To be there and even be at Alabama and being able to cement myself in history at both schools and be a part of those prestigious programs, it’s been very special to me.”

For his career, Hurts threw for 9,477 yards and rushed for 3,274 yards. He finished 19th in NCAA history with 124 total touchdowns. Through tangibles and intangibles, he posted a 38-4 record as a starter.

“All of it made me better. All of it has made me stronger, a better man, a wiser man, a better leader,” Hurts said. “In two programs, it’s tough. To having to adjust to different players and just being respected to where every team I’ve been on has followed me regardless of the position of where I came from. I don’t go into any place trying to be something I’m not, force it, say, ‘Hey, y’all got to follow me ..’ It doesn’t work like that. Especially in this business I’m about to get into. I’m a grown man. I can just be the best version of myself, working hard, being who I am. I think real recognizes real. I got that effect sometimes, and they follow me.”

Both of his parents were special-education teachers. With that, he participated in Tim Tebow’s Night To Shine prom for special-needs children. He formed a special friendship with a man with Down syndrome. “I would ask him the score, and the score would be reasonable,” Hurts told The Athletic. “It would be a reasonable score. Then I’d ask him, ‘OK, how many touchdowns?’ And he’d say ‘37!’ or ‘45!’, like really crazy numbers. Then I started recording him on Snapchat and sending it to my friends. He’s a really sweet guy. I loved his honesty.”

What we like

Just look at the numbers. Among quarterbacks in this draft class, Hurts’ on-target rate of 81 percent ranks third, according to Sports Info Solutions. He wasn’t just a dink-and-dunker, though. He completed 50 percent of his deep passes and ranked seventh in the nation with 1,234 yards on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield, according to Pro Football Focus. His ability to run makes him a true dual threat. He is big (6-1, 222), powerful and fast (4.59 in the 40; 6.7 yards per carry for his career).

“I don’t think there’s a ceiling on my game,” he said. “I would say the sky’s the limit, but I don’t think that’s even the limit. The dynamic ability I have, able to make every throw, get nasty and bend my legs if needed, it should be fun.”

What we don’t like

Sometimes, you’ve got to take the stats with a grain of salt. Hurts led powerhouses at Alabama, and he was the latest Oklahoma quarterback to put up ridiculous numbers. Despite the outstanding production, he’s not a polished passer. Maybe it was the parade of coaches he worked with at Alabama and Oklahoma, but he lacks the requisite anticipation. Being a tick late might work against woeful Big 12 defenses but it won’t work in the NFL.