QB-Needy Teams Should Be Desperately Trying to Get 6th Pick or Hurts from Eagles

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistMarch 26, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles' Jalen Hurts plays during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Even outside the top five spots in the 2021 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles could change the complexion of the selection process if they trade Jalen Hurts or their No. 6 pick. 

With a strong incoming quarterback class, teams that want a shot at one of the top prospects in the April 29-May 1 event should float trade proposals to general manager Howie Roseman.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen tweeted that owner Jeffrey Lurie instructed the front office to build around Hurts following Carson Wentz's trade to the Indianapolis Colts. But Roseman hasn't publicly committed to the second-year quarterback as the starter for 2021.

When asked about the supposed mandate, Roseman refuted the notion, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We have not been told to do anything other than to try and strengthen the football team," Roseman said.

Without confirmation that Hurts is the starter, other clubs may see an opportunity to land the dual-threat signal-caller in a trade, especially if the Eagles grow fond of BYU's Zach Wilson, Ohio State's Justin Fields or North Dakota State's Trey Lance.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen HurtsChris Szagola/Associated Press/Associated Press

According to The Athletic's Bo Wulf, Hurts' four-game sample didn't solidify his long-term future in Philadelphia.

"Jalen Hurts fits into a convenient middle ground for the Eagles of this moment," Wulf wrote. "He's promising enough that the Eagles felt comfortable moving on from Carson Wentz, but he's also not set in stone as the team's franchise quarterback."

From Weeks 14 to 17, Hurts started over Wentz, though former head coach Doug Pederson benched the rookie for Nate Sudfeld in the final quarter of the season finale. In his last four outings, he recorded 919 passing yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions along with 272 yards and three scores on the ground.

Although Hurts provided a much-needed spark, he didn't complete 57 percent of his passes in any of the four contests, and the Eagles went 1-3 in that stretch.

Roseman selected Hurts in the second round of the 2020 draft, but new head coach Nick Sirianni and his staff may see an upgrade in this class. If that's the case, Philadelphia could move forward with Wilson, Fields or Lance if one of them remains on the board at No. 6.

Hurts would then become a decent commodity on the trade block. The Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots would be realistic landing spots.

According to The Athletic's Joseph Person, Panthers owner David Tepper wants a long-term solution at quarterback. Hurts has plenty of room to grow. With development under head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady, he could blossom into the franchise's centerpiece. 

Patriots lead skipper Bill Belichick has a well-documented friendship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who coached Hurts for three seasons from 2016 to 2018. 

With some intel, New England may feel comfortable about grooming Hurts behind Cam Newton with the expectation that the 22-year-old signal-caller would take over the offense in 2022. 

New England doesn't have a long-term answer behind Newton, who re-signed with the club on a one-year deal this offseason. At No. 15 in the draft order, the Patriots will likely miss out on the top quarterback prospects.

Even if the Eagles prefer to allow Hurts an offseason to develop and a full season to put a stronghold on the starting job, quarterback-needy teams should inquire about the sixth overall pick. 

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie RosemanDerik Hamilton/Associated Press

Coming off a 4-11-1 season with holes to fill at wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker and safety, Philadelphia may embrace the idea of moving down and acquiring another Day 2 pick to address its needs. Based on Jimmy Johnson's trade value chart, the Eagles would receive a second-rounder from New England or a third-rounder from Carolina, on top of either team's first-rounder, in exchange for their top selection.

On the other end, the Patriots, Panthers or any other quarterback-needy team that moves up to the Eagles' spot would have a better shot to select Wilson, Fields or Lance, assuming the Miami Dolphins (No. 3 pick) and Cincinnati Bengals (No. 5 pick) are committed to Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow, respectively.

Trevor Lawrence, Wilson and Fields could come off the board within the top five. Lance seems like the most realistic target at No. 6, but he's still a high-upside prospect with the tools to flourish as a pro. 

In his redshirt freshman season, Lance threw for 28 touchdowns without an interception and rushed for 1,100 yards and 14 scores. Despite his shaky passing performance in one game against Central Arkansas last season, throwing for 149 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception with a 50 percent completion rate, an experienced talent evaluator compared him to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (h/t NFL Network's Mike Garafolo):

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

During our @nflnetwork coverage of Trey Lance's pro day, @MoveTheSticks says he got a text from a longtime NFL evaluator who compared Lance to Josh Allen. DJ: "He is dripping with ability ... Nitpick him all you want, but this guy that can make some special, special throws."

Allen made a seismic leap this past season, throwing for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Similar to the Bills quarterback, Lance has the mobility to extend plays and the arm to make throws in all areas of the field.

And while clubs might attempt to move up for Lance, the Eagles could take the dynamic quarterback's upside into consideration.

For now, we shouldn't count the Eagles out of an early draft-day trade or a swerve in their quarterback plans. According to McLane's report, Roseman seems aware of the fixated eyes on the crop of signal-callers in this year's class, and he's going to take a close look at them as well.

"We haven't had a chance to see all those guys throw live. We haven't completed our evaluations of all of them," Roseman said. "But when you talk about how many quarterbacks will go in the first round ... maybe five guys going in the top 10." 

When you factor in the possibility that a team could take Alabama's Mac Jones in the first 10 picks, the Eagles should receive multiple trade proposals before the draft. 

Philadelphia could steer the draft down an unforeseen lane. As the Eagles weigh their options, teams shouldn't hesitate to call them with an offer in case Roseman wants to create some draft-day chaos while he tries to strengthen his team.