Meet Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts. He's really good at football and is about to play in his first Super Bowl at the age of 24. That's 24 years and 189 days, to be exact, making him the seventh youngest quarterback to start in a Super Bowl in the modern era.
It's an incredible feat, really, because there weren't a lot of people convinced he was a that he was the future of the quarterback position for the Eagles heading into this season. So, let's talk about how Jalen Hurts went from underdog to Super Bowl LVII MVP favorite.
Hurts had a pretty remarkable season as a true freshman at Alabama. That year, Hurts was named the SEC Offensive Player of the year, led the team to an SEC Championship win and took them to the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship. They lost, but by just four points – an encouraging sign of things to come.
The momentum kinda continued. Until it didn’t. Alabama made the 2018 CFP National Championship, but Hurts was benched for Tua Tagovailoa, his then-backup. Tagovailoa led them to a comeback victory and was named as the team’s starter in the season to follow. Hurts wasn’t done, though. He transferred to Oklahoma in 2019 and managed a remarkable bounce-back season.
That year, he led the NCAA in pass yards per attempt and touchdowns responsible for (passing, rushing, and receiving TDs combined). He ranked third in the NCAA in total yards, second in passing efficiency rating and had the second-most rushing yards among all quarterbacks. Still, critics remained.
His leadership was praised in the pre-draft process, as was his athleticism, but there were still some concerns about his prospects at the pro level.
Hurts' slow decision making throughout his career is terrifying when projecting to the NFL. He's played behind some of the best offensive line situations in college football and when that's not the case in the NFL, things could get ugly. - PFF
He posted excellent numbers at the 2020 NFL Combine, with a 4.59-second 40-yard dash (ranks 95th percentile among QBs), a 10 foot-5 inch broad jump (97th percentile) and a 35" vertical jump (89th percentile).
With a bounce-back season at OU in the books and a stellar combine performance, Hurts went on to be drafted by the Eagles in the second round, with the 53rd overall pick.
Hurts was drafted as the fifth quarterback off the board despite his stellar final season at OU, backing up QB Carson Wentz until Week 13. Wentz had been on a downward spiral and was finally benched for Hurts, who finished out the season as the team’s starter. He wasn’t stellar in that period, mind you.
Week 13 and onward, Hurts ranked 34th in NFL passer rating among the 37 quarterbacks to attempt at least 50 passes. He ranked dead-last in completion rate (51%) and 26th in pass yards per game. Still, we saw his athleticism and ability to make plays as a runner, which was a nice reminder of his potential.
In his second NFL season, Hurts took some steps forward. He made strides in his overall development, but still, headed into Year 3, critics remained. The arrival of A.J. Brown and another year with HC Nick Sirianni proved to be the final piece of the puzzle that was Hurts' ascension to elite quarterback play.
101.5 NFL passer rating (4th best)
8.0 yards per pass attempt (3rd best)
One of just four players (Jamaal Williams, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler) to score 13+ rushing touchdowns
Had more rush attempts of 20 or more yards than Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Joe Mixon, Austin Ekeler, and Alvin Kamara, among others