There is no college football player with both the most to prove and potentially gain from the 2019 season than new Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. The former Alabama signal-caller’s current NFL evaluation is incomplete as his time in Tuscaloosa was cut short thanks to the stellar play of Tua Tagovailoa.
Hurts is not currently projected to go high in the 2020 NFL draft, but the good news is that Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley has worked magic the past two seasons with transfer quarterbacks. Both Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray parlayed great seasons in Norman into being the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. Riley’s streak is likely to come to an end in the upcoming draft regardless of how Hurts plays this season, but the quarterback has a chance to rise higher than his current projections.
Hurts is not projected to be a Day 1 or Day 2 pick by most draft analysts heading into the season, but the quarterback has plenty of time to improve his stock. The key to Hurts rising up draft boards lies in his ability to prove he can consistently throw from the pocket. Teams already know Hurts can punish defenses with his legs, but the big question mark centers around his ability as a pocket passer.
ESPN Named Jalen Hurts as the College Football Player With the Most to Prove to NFL Teams This Season
ESPN named Hurts as one of five quarterbacks to watch heading into the 2020 NFL draft. ESPN noted that Hurts has as much to prove to NFL teams as any player in college football.
There isn’t a player in college football with more to prove in terms of the NFL. At Alabama, he was pigeonholed as a run-first QB who struggled with short-to-intermediate throws. But was that reality or just the narrative? Remember, he won SEC Offensive Player of the Year as a freshman for a reason.
The majority of early draft rankings have Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jake Fromm and Jordan Love ranked in some order as the top four quarterbacks for 2020. This time last year Murray was believed to be too small to be an NFL quarterback as he was prepared to start his pro baseball career. A lot can change in a few short months of the college football season.
Hurts’ Upside Could Move Him Up to a Day 2 Pick
Hurts is not in danger of going undrafted, but he has some work to do to avoid being a Day 3 pick. Many project Hurts to be a Day 3 pick heading into the season, but The Draft Network’s Brad Kelly believes the new Sooners signal-caller has Day 2 upside which means improving his draft stock could land him in the second or third round.
While he isn’t likely to develop as rapidly as Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray did in their final seasons, Hurts is an intriguing quarterback prospect who could be available in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft.
Hurts is a multidimensional talent, will post excellent athletic testing marks with a strong build, and come into the NFL with plenty of college experience on national powerhouse programs.
Hurts has the arm to survive in the NFL, and his development with his deep accuracy is an encouraging progression.
Hurts’ best statistical season came his freshman year when he threw for 2,780 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing nearly 63 percent of his passes. The quarterback also rushed for 954 yards and 13 touchdowns in the same 2016 season. Hurts is expected to put up even bigger numbers in an Oklahoma offense that has no problem getting into a shootout with their opponent.