Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts was a few plays away from leading Alabama to a national championship in his freshman season. Last season, it appeared Hurts had led the Crimson Title to a national title prior to Deshaun Watson’s late heroics. Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples describes the scene.
Forget everything else about Jalen Hurts’s first season as Alabama’s quarterback and just think about that drive. When the Crimson Tide absolutely, positively needed a touchdown against a defense that had shut down the offense for most of the second half on the game’s biggest stage, Hurts delivered that touchdown. That drive ended with him sprinting 30 yards up the middle and into the end zone. And if almost anyone other than Watson had been the other quarterback, Alabama would have another national title.
While Hurts had an impressive first college football season, it appears he is being undervalued as an NFL prospect. The good news is Hurts has some time to increase his draft stock. Hurts cannot enter the NFL draft until 2019 after his junior season.
NFL Draft Scout has Hurts as the sixth ranked quarterback in his class, although the rankings include Sam Darnold who is expected to enter the 2018 draft. Deondre Francois, Shane Buechele, Jacob Eason and Jarrett Stidham are all ranked above Hurts in the current rankings.
With Hurts dual-threat potential, Hurts is being underrated. Hurts proved capable enough for Nick Saban to start him as a true freshman, a rarity for the legendary coach. Hurts threw for 2,780 yards, 23 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 62.8 percent of his passes. Hurts also rushed for 954 yards and 13 touchdowns.
NFL talent evaluators want to see more consistency from within the pocket, but Hurts still has at least two seasons to prove himself. Not everyone is down on Hurts. Former NFL GM Gil Brandt explained on NFL.com that Hurts should have been in the conversation for the 2016 Heisman Trophy.
Yes, I know Hurts is a true freshman and no true freshman has ever won the award. He belongs in the conversation, though. He’s playing at a very high level, and he’s delivered against good competition. I was impressed when I saw him play in person in Week 1 against USC…Hurts doesn’t always throw a tight spiral, but it looks like he has good accuracy.
Look for Hurts to improve his draft stock, and put himself in the conversation to be one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft.