By Harvey Hoffman
The Eagles shocked their Nation during the 2020 NFL Draft, selecting Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts in the second round.
While Hurts is an intriguing prospect, the Eagles already have Carson Wentz, who is just 27 years old and on the second year of a four-year, $128 million extension. He’s clearly the franchise quarterback for at least the immediate future.
However, there are reasons why the Eagles drafted Hurts. Wentz has had injury problems in the past. Having a quality quarterback behind him certainly would not be a bad idea. And Hurts will be a relatively cheap option for the next few seasons.
And given Hurts’ draft pedigree, it was expected he’d be set in the lineup as Wentz’s backup. That, however, is not the case.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson foresees someone with more experience coming into the offseason as the No. 2 quarterback. Pederson announced that Nate Sudfeld will instead serve as Wentz’s backup:
“I fully expect Nate to come in and be aggressive and do the things that he’s capable of doing, and become the backup to Carson. And then with Jalen, Jalen is about, right now, just learning and picking up our system, and he’s another one, another young player that we drafted who, there’s a lot to learn from the quarterback position.
“So, are we going to take it a little bit slower maybe with him until he grasps the offense? You might have to. What I like about it is always the unknown, and the unknown is how well a guy I think can progress. And then once we get him on the grass, put him through drills, put him through practices, then we see exactly what these guys are all about.”
For now, Hurts will serve as the team’s third-string quarterback. The Eagles have had Sudfeld (a 2016 sixth round pick from the Washington Redskins) on the roster for the last two seasons. He served as Wentz’s backup in 2019.
It looks like they still have some faith in him, as Pederson believes Sudfeld will again be the backup to start the 2020 season.
This makes sense. It takes pressure off Hurts. Now, if Wentz has to leave a game early or miss a week or two, the rookie isn’t getting thrown into the fire without any warning.
Hurts now has time to develop his game and get a better understanding of the NFL and his new Eagles system. Once that happens, he’ll likely take over as No. 2 on the depth chart.