Eagles' Doug Pederson Talks Jalen Hurts vs. Nate Sudfeld Backup QB Competition

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2020

Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts runs through drills during Pro Day in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)
Alonzo Adams/Associated Press

The Philadelphia Eagles' backup quarterback job can be one of the most important in football.

Just ask Super Bowl champion Nick Foles.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson emphasized the importance of experience in the 2020 backup competition between Nate Sudfeld and rookie Jalen Hurts: "Early on in this season ... teams are going to have to rely on their veterans. And Nate is one of those guys for us. ... I have a ton of confidence in Nate becoming our backup QB."

Pederson added that Hurts still needs to "learn and pick up our system."

Carson Wentz is entrenched as the Eagles' starter and appeared in all 16 games last season, but he missed five games in 2018 and three games in 2017, and he was unavailable for the playoffs both seasons. After he suffered a torn ACL in Week 14 in 2017, Foles replaced him and led Philadelphia to the Lombardi Trophy.

Expecting something like that from Sudfeld is probably too ambitious.

The Indiana University product entered the league as a sixth-round draft pick in 2016 and has thrown 25 passes in his NFL career. While he has completed 80 percent of them for 156 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions, that isn't much game experience to fall back on should Wentz suffer another injury.

Sudfeld does have the advantage of knowing the Eagles' system since he has been with the team since the 2017 campaign.

Hurts' ceiling is likely higher given his stellar college production. He won SEC Offensive Player of the Year in 2016 and a national championship in 2018 with the Alabama Crimson Tide, and he was a Heisman Trophy finalist with the Oklahoma Sooners in 2019 after he transferred.

Hurts completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 3,851 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions while adding 1,298 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground for Oklahoma. Philadelphia selected him in the second round of the draft.

He brings a dual-threat ability that Sudfeld cannot match, but Pederson's comments suggest the veteran will have the upper hand in the early going of the 2020 campaign.