The biggest question facing the Eagles today is one they can’t answer honestly.
Should they stick with Jalen Hurts or select a quarterback?
The immediate future of the franchise depends on getting it right. And what’s scary is that there’s no way they can tell.
There’s just no possible way Howie Roseman, Nick Sirianni, and the rest of the Eagles’ mental trust can sit there at the NovaCare Complex and decide with any degree of certainty what they have on Hurts.
After 3 1/2 games? Playing behind that offensive line and those receivers? On an offense where the running game was practically non-existent?
No one can evaluate Hurts beyond this – there were times when he looked very, very good and times when he looked very, very bad.
Like all young quarterbacks.
It is not enough to continue.
Ty Detmer, Kevin Kolb and Bobby Hoying went 8-3-1 with 18 TDs and 9 TDs in their first four career starts. They were 15-32-1 with 61 TDs and 68 TDs for the rest of their careers.
By contrast, Randall Cunningham and Donovan McNabb combined 2-6 with 6 TDs and 10 interceptions in their first four starts. But we all know what their careers were like after that.
Nobody knows after four games.
But literally any team that has a top 10 pick and doesn’t have an established quarterback will consider picking one. You have to. That’s where you find guys like Peyton Manning, Josh Allen or Pat Mahomes.
There are always exceptions. Drew Brees was a second-round pick. Russell Wilson was a 3. We all know Tom Brady was a 6.
But your best chance of landing a franchise quarterback is in the first round. Stop in the first round.
58 Pro Bowl quarterbacks have been drafted since 2000. Nearly half (28) were drafted in the top 12 picks. Three were taken later in the first round, six in the second round, four in the third round, four in the fourth round, and then 13 in various places in the fifth round and beyond or not drafted.
The second round is the second most likely place to find an elite QB, and the first 12 picks are nearly five times as likely.
And the Eagles pick at number 6.
And this is only the third time in the last 20 years that they have a top-six pick and only the sixth time in 45 years. And we know that they consider themselves a Quarterback Factory.
So these opportunities don’t happen very often.
That is what makes this such a difficult decision.
If you choose a receiver, a corner or something else at n. 6 and you go with Hurts, you might win a Super Bowl with him at some point, but remember, Brees, Brett Favre and Ken Stabler are the only second-round picks to ever win a Super Bowl.
And if Hurts isn’t that guy, who knows when your next chance to choose that high will come? The Eagles didn’t rank in the top 10 between Corey Simon in 2000 and Lane Johnson in 2013.
Maybe Hurts is horrible and you go back there in 2022 and recruit your quarterback. Maybe it’s elite and you don’t have to worry about it for a decade.
It is the huge middle ground that is so concerning. It’s good enough to keep you competitive, but not good enough to win anything.
So you’re stuck out of the top 10 without a franchise QB.
Now selecting a guy in the first few selections is also a risk. No one knows if Justin Fields or Zach Wilson or Trey Lance will be The Guy either. No one needs to be reminded of Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler or Akili Smith.
But choose early in the first round and you have history on your side.
The Eagles really put themselves in a ridiculous situation last April. Drafting Hurts set off a series of events that led to chaos in the team’s top job.
And all they can do now is guess what they have and guess what they need. They cannot afford to be wrong.
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