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'We want to be a quarterback factory': Eagles explain stunning decision to draft Jalen Hurts

'We want to be a quarterback factory': Eagles explain stunning decision to draft Jalen Hurts

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The Philadelphia Eagles believe in quarterbacks.

After Friday night, the question is whether the Eagles specifically believe in Carson Wentz.

Philadelphia stunningly selected quarterback Jalen Hurts of Oklahoma with the No. 53 overall pick in the second round of the NFL draft Friday.

The move was a shocker because Wentz is 27 and last June signed a four-year, $128 million contract that takes effect this season.

“For better or worse, we are quarterback developers,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. “We want to be a quarterback factory. When we make these kinds of decisions, we always go to our principles and who we are and what we believe in, and right or wrong, this is who we are.”

There was no way to react to the selection of Hurts than to immediately raise questions about what the Eagles think of Wentz’s future. Philadelphia officials quickly tried to quell any such talk during a video news conference Friday. Roseman said the Eagles spoke with Wentz on Friday afternoon and told him there was a possibility Philadelphia would select Hurts. Wentz tweeted a welcome to Hurts on Friday night.

“We have shown how we feel about Carson by our actions,” Roseman said. “We showed it by the amount of picks we put into (get) him, and we showed it by the contract extension. We believe this is a guy to lead us to our next Super Bowl championship.”

The Eagles can say what they want, but it’s hard not see a quarterback controversy on Philadelphia’s horizon.

As for Hurts, he was just thrilled to be drafted.

“I control what I can. I just got drafted, and this is a great moment for me and my family,” he said. “Right now, I just want to soak it all in.”

The 6-foot-1 Hurts played at Alabama before transferring to Oklahoma, where he threw for 3,851 yards and 32 TDs last season.

Hurts, 21, led Alabama to the 2016 and 2017 national championship games. He eventually lost the starting job to Tua Tagovailoa, whom the Miami Dolphins selected with the No. 5 overall pick Thursday.

Eagles assistant director of player personnel Andy Weidl saw Hurts lead Oklahoma to a 52-14 win over West Virginia last fall.

“He’s part of the new guard, the mobile quarterbacks in the league that can win throwing it or running it,” Weidl said. “He’s a natural leader that’s led two major college football programs to conference championships. He’s just very poised in the pocket. He’s done it on the big stage.”

The Hurts selection was also stunning because the Eagles have other needs, especially at wide receiver, linebacker, defensive back and offensive line.

Friday’s surprising second-round selection came after the Eagles selected wide receiver Jalen Reagor of TCU with the 21st pick in Thursday’s first round.

Roseman said the Eagles explored the possibility of trading up in Thursday’s first round but decided not to because they wanted to hold on to their second- and third-round picks. The Dallas Cowboys chose highly touted wide receiver Ceedee Lamb of Oklahoma with the No. 17 pick in the first round.

That second round pick the Eagles refused to part with Thursday turned into Hurts on Friday. Roseman said there is a possibility Hurts could develop into a valuable future asset.

But that’s not going to help the Eagles win this year.

“Where the league is going, when he gets experience and coaching, he’s going to be a valuable player,” Roseman said. “Our job is to acquire as many assets as we can and utilize them to get more value. That’s really what the draft is about. It’s about value.”

The big question now is what does Wentz think?

He threw 27 touchdown passes to lead the Eagles to a 9-7 record and the NFC East title last season, but his injury history is troublesome.

He played less than a quarter of Philadelphia’s 17-9 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks because of a concussion.

Wentz played 13 regular-season games and missed the Eagles’ playoff run to a Super Bowl title in the 2017 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

A back injury and the recovery from the 2017 knee injury limited him to just 11 games in 2018.

There was speculation Friday the Eagles could create specific offensive packages for Hurts, like what the New Orleans Saints did last season with quarterback Taysom Hill.

Roseman also talked of the value Philadelphia has gotten out of the quarterback position the past few seasons. Backup quarterback Nick Foles led the Eagles to a Super Bowl title, but Philadelphia then parted ways with Foles because it didn’t want to create a quarterback controversy.

The Hurts pick appears to defy all conventional NFL logic. Roseman doesn’t see it that way.

“The draft isn’t about just doing whatever is best for a team in the short-term,” Roseman said. “The draft is about making smart, long-term decisions for your organization based on the priorities that you believe (are) key to winning football games. We’ve won a lot of football games around here the last three years, and I feel very confident that the decisions we make are going to serve us well for the short-term and the long-term.”

Contact: 609-272-7185

MMcGarry@pressofac.com

Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

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