An interesting narrative has been going around when it comes to the Eagles and the idea that it will be difficult to move in a different direction at quarterback if Jalen Hurts doesn’t progress to the point where the Eagles feel comfortable identifying him as the organization’s long-term future at the game’s most important position.
There are many layers to these arguments but most of them default to Hurts’ showing improvement, something he’s done consistently in his young career dating back to high school, and the difficulty of using two mid-first round picks at best as a launching pad to get either Alabama’s Bryce Young or Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, the two prohibitive favorite at the position to be at the top of the draft next April.
Forget that GM Howie Roseman has already shown an ability to move mountains if the organization likes a QB at the top of the draft, starting at No. 13 overall in 2016 before leapfrogging to No. 8 and finally the second overall selection to get to Carson Wentz.
The bigger misconception is that it’s Young, Stroud, or bust next April and no one else will be worthy of building around, maybe an astute assessment of the 2022 draft class in which Kenny Pickett was the only signal-caller to go in the first two rounds at No. 20 overall to Pittsburgh.
To give you an example of the early returns on the 2023 QB class, the latest mock draft from Cam Mellor of the Pro Football Network hit my in-box last week with Stroud being tabbed to go No. 1 overall and Young quickly coming off the board at No. 3. There were two other QBs, Will Levis of Kentucky and Spencer Rattler of South Carolina, deemed worthy of being top-10 picks, however.
If that holds up there will be plenty of avenues for the Eagles to snare a highly-rated QB. CBS Sports, for instance, has Miami QB Tyler Van Dyke and Florida signal-caller Anthony Richardson in positions to make significant noise with solid college seasons.
The Eagles already have two first-round picks for next April after kicking the can down the road with New Orleans this past April.
PFN’s Mellor isn’t as high on the Eagles’ chances heading into the 2022 campaign as many others, or New Orleans for that matter, and he’s got Philadelphia starting the process with consecutive picks at 12 and 13.
Moving from that scenario into a position to get a QB would be child’s play for Roseman even if a strong QB class with multiple teams desiring signal-callers.
A more realistic position for an Eagles team that will need a QB is being in the 15-to-20 range with both picks after decent but purgatory-like seasons for both Philadelphia and the Saints.
Even from that platform, Roseman could likely easily get up to the eight to 10 range with the focus on a Levis or someone that bursts out like Rattler, Van Dyke, or Richardson.
There are so many options in play here which can be spun positively or negatively.
Last year at this time some had Rattler as the projected No. 1 overall pick in 2022 before he was benched at Oklahoma and transferred to the Gamecocks to try to reboot his career. Others had North Carolina’s Sam Howell, who ended up as a fifth-round pick by Carolina, and one even talked about Carson Strong, who ended up with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent.
Rewind to 2021 and Zach Wilson was barely a blip on the radar early in the process before playing himself into being the No. 3 overall pick.
The veteran market is also always in play and remember if the Eagles are really good in 2022 and have their own draft pick in the late 20s, that would be a dead giveaway that the organization won’t be looking for a QB.
And that’s where it all starts. Hurts’ greatest luxury is playing time and if the third-year QB utilizes it well, no one is taking him off the field in Philadelphia.
That said, don’t let anyone fool you. Roseman’s plan by spinning off one of his 2021 first-round picks to next April was to keep as many doors open as possible with a stronger QB class on deck and that’s exactly what the GM accomplished.