Eagles Observations: How will offseason quarterback pursuit affect Jalen Hurts?

How will Jalen Hurts respond this year knowing the Eagles spent the last few months looking at a bunch of other quarterbacks?

That’s where we start in this weekend’s 10 random Eagles offseason observations. But we’ve also got a crazy Jason Kelce stat, a crazier Jalen Reagor stat and a player the Eagles have to replace in 2022 and tons more!

1. Hurts is awfully mentally tough, and he’s dealt with a lot in his career. But it couldn’t have been easy the last few months hearing the Eagles linked to every veteran quarterback who might be available as well as a couple top draft picks. Nick Sirianni and Howie Roseman keep saying they believe in Jalen and he’s their guy, but they just spent the last few months literally trying to replace him.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying to upgrade your roster. If you have a chance to get Russell Wilson you’d be negligent if you didn’t at least do your due diligence and look into it. And NFL teams can’t hide these types of pursuits these days. But no matter how often Roseman and Sirianni said Jalen’s The Guy, you have to go by their actions, not their words. Jalen is their guy honestly because they couldn’t get anyone better.

The Eagles do believe Hurts has a chance to develop into The Guy, but he hasn’t proven anything yet, and it would be silly for them not to consider all options. But that’s a tough position for a 23-year-old quarterback without a long-term contract, and now Hurts has to go out and play knowing that as effusive as Roseman and Sirianni have been in their praise, they did consider other options, and he’s not their first choice.

Hurts wouldn’t talk about the Eagles’ offseason quarterback dalliances on Thursday, but he made it clear how he feels: “It’s my opportunity. It’s my team. ” All he’s got to do now is go out to prove it under an uncomfortable cloud of uncertainty.

2. We can probably all agree that Hurts has to be more accurate in 2022 if he’s going to establish himself as the long-term answer. Hurts completed 61.2 percent of his passes last year, which ranked 21st out of 25 QBs who threw at least 400 passes. The NFL average last year was 64.8 percent.

But Hurts would have needed 15 more completions all year to get to 64.8 percent. If he completed another eight on top of that, he’d be at 67 percent, which would have put him 12th in the league. That’s one more completion every 20 attempts.

With AJ Brown instead of Reagor, with a second year in Sirianni’s offense, with the natural growth you expect from a QB in his second year as a starter, that’s a reasonable target. And if he can get there and keep the turnovers down, it will give him a very good shot at locking up the job moving forward.

3. Surprising that only three QBs in Eagles history have completed 62 percent of their passes in a season with a minimum of 400 attempts. Carson Wentz three times and Donovan McNabb and Sam Bradford once each.

4. With the Jordan Davis pick last weekend ,. the Eagles have now used 21 of their last 29 first-round picks on linemen. The only non-linemen they’ve taken in the first round in the last 32 drafts are five wide receivers, two quarterbacks and one defensive back.

The notion of building from both lines goes back before Roseman and even back before Andy Reid. Since 1991, the Eagles have selected 13 defensive linemen – six tackles, seven ends – and nine offensive linemen – five tackles, four guards – and just eight 1st-round players in over three decades who aren’t linemen.

Part of that is a commitment to the two lines and part is trying to replace earlier 1st-round picks that didn’t pan out. The 49ers have drafted the next-most linemen since 1991 with 19 – 13 defensive, six offensive – and the Saints [17]Lions [16]Rams [16] and the Seahawks [16] are next.

5. Kelce has made as many Pro Bowls as every other Eagles center in history combined. Kelce has made five, Hall of Famer Jim Ringo three, Chuck Bednarik played center as well as linebacker in 1960 when he made his eighth and final Pro Bowl and Ken Farragut was a Pro Bowler in 1953.

6. I really have my doubts that stockpiling a bunch of young budget corners and letting them have a training camp free-for-all for the CB2 spot will work. From the guys Roseman brought in last year, Tay Gowan is a 6th-round pick, Kary Vincent Jr. a 7th-round pick, Mac McCain undrafted, Josiah Scott a 4th-round pick who lasted six games with the team that drafted him and Zech McPhearson was the Eagles’ 4th-round pick last year.

Then you have this year’s crop of undrafted rookies – Mario Goodrich, Josh Jobe and Josh Blackwell. Maybe the math if you have seven candidates says one of them has a chance to be good. And some of them have interesting resumes and could have a chance to be a player.

But I don’t like the odds. I don’t know how many starting-caliber outside cornerbacks you’re finding off the street, on the waiver wire, undrafted or in the late rounds. The Eagles have found a couple over the years – Herm Edwards and Jalen Mills come to mind – but after that you’re talking about people like Rod Hood, Elbert Foules and Evan Cooper. And a couple slots, like Rod Hood and Joselio Hanson.

Maybe you’ll stumble on a Chris Harris Jr., Tramon Williams or Brent Grimes. It seems like quite a longshot. The last Pro Bowl corner the Eagles either drafted in the 4th round or later or signed as an undrafted free agent was Irv Cross, a 7th-round pick in 1961 (and the first African American sports analyst on national TV).

The Eagles need to sign a veteran corner and I still think it was a mistake to let Steven Nelson walk.

7. The Eagles haven’t had a wide receiver finish among the top 25 in receiving yards since Jeremy Maclin in 2014. Here’s a look at their leading receivers and where they ranked in receiving yards each year since 2014:

2021: 29th – DeVonta Smith [916]

2020: 82nd – Travis Fulgham [539]

2019: 88th – Alshon Jeffery [490]

2018: 30th – Alshon Jeffery [843]

2017: 35th – Alshon Jeffery [789]

2016: 48th – Jordan Matthews [804]

2015: 27th – Jordan Matthews [997]

2014: 9th – Jeremy Maclin [1,318]

8. Reagor had 43 offensive touches for 331 yards last year, and this was only the third time in NFL history a wide receiver has started at least 10 games and had 40 or more touches for fewer than 380 yards. The other two instances: Nelson Agholor in 2016 and Nelson Agholor in 2019.

9. Davis is huge. It’s crazy to think how the defensive tackle position has evolved over the years. In 1989, the average NFL starting defensive tackle weighed 274 pounds. Jerome Brown was 4th-heaviest at 292 pounds. Last year, the average starting d-tackle weighed 311 pounds.

Davis said he’s 345 pounds right now and would like to play closer to 330 pounds. The biggest starting defensive tackles in Eagles history are Haloti Ngata [340 pounds]William “Fridge” Perry [335 pounds]Isaac Sopoaga [330 pounds] and Beau Allen [327 pounds].

That’s going to be a big storyline this offseason – can the Eagles get Davis in shape so he can play at least 30 to 35 snaps a game? And finally, when Fletcher Cox is gone, he’ll have to play a lot more than that. That’s not happening at 345.

10. The Eagles can’t go into 2022 without a new punter.

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