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Jalen Hurts Thought He Was Going to Steelers in 2020 NFL Draft



Jalen Hurts quarterback sneak

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts revealed recently on the New Heights Podcast with Jason and Travis Kelce that he thought he was going to the 412 instead of the 215 when the Eagles drafted him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Hurts was selected at 53rd overall, while the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Chase Claypool with the 49th overall pick.

“I thought I was going to Pittsburgh,” Hurts recalled on his draft night in 2020. “So when I saw (a Pennsylvania phone number), I thought, ‘This is Pittsburgh.’ (Then) they said the Philadelphia Eagles. … I had no idea I would come here. I had no idea.”

With Ben Roethlisberger coming off major elbow surgery that sidelined him for nearly the entire 2019 season, it would have been wise for the Steelers’ brass to set up a contingency plan for life after Roethlisberger. However, Pittsburgh didn’t have a first-round pick in 2020, as they traded it to the Miami Dolphins in the trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick. They thought the Super Bowl window was still open and wanted to make one last run in Roethlisberger’s final years. Hence why they drafted Claypool in the second round.

Hurts also mentioned the Minnesota Vikings and Las Vegas Raiders as teams he expected to be potential landing spots in the draft. He had no clue that Philadelphia would be the designation.

“I had no idea. I had an interview with them at the draft, but from the interview, I didn’t think I was gonna be an Eagle,” Hurts said. “I didn’t know. When my number got called, I was just like, ‘Let’s go.'”

Tomlin had high praise for Hurts during his Tuesday press conference leading up to the Steelers Week 8 game against the Eagles.

“They’re unbelievably efficient in terms of maintaining possession of the ball and it starts with their quarterback, Jalen Hurts,” Tomlin said. “Man, I’ve just got so much respect for him and the way he plays the position. His intangible quality, his leadership skills, his prudent decision making, his prudent use of mobility at the position. It’s all really good, and that’s why they have very little negativity in their offense. They utilize his mobility schematically in situational moments. It’s challenging for the defense on possession downs in a tight red. I think he’s got six touchdowns via the ground.

“So, that turnover component and his prudent decision making, his ball security and the ball skills in that secondary are the reasons, significant reasons, why they are an undefeated group.”

Hurts lit up the Steelers’ secondary in Week 8, completing 19 of 28 passes (67.7%) for 285 yards with four touchdowns, no interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 140.6. All four of Hurts’ touchdown passes went for at least 27 yards in the Eagles’ dominating 35-13 win over the Steelers.

In hindsight, selecting Hurts instead of Claypool would have been the right move by the Steelers. But as mentioned, they thought Roethlisberger had enough left to lead them to one last Super Bowl run. Roethlisberger also would have been livid if the Steelers selected Hurts in the second round, as he wasn’t happy when they selected Mason Rudolph in the third round in 2018. Hurts has also benefited from Nick Sirianni and offensive coordinator Shane Steichen. Hurts wouldn’t have developed like he has under Matt Canada.

Time will tell with Kenny Pickett, but he’s struggled immensely so far. He has a 2-8 touchdown-interception ratio and a 66.8 quarterback rating, which ranks 34th in the league. Pickett is the first quarterback since Alex Smith in 2005 with two or fewer touchdown passes and eight-plus interceptions in his first five career games. The Steelers will need to see exceptional growth from Pickett in the second half season as they look to turn around their 2-6 start.

Meanwhile, Hurts is a potential MVP candidate this season, completing 68.2% of his passes for 2,042 yards with 12 touchdowns, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 107.8. Hurts has also rushed for 326 yards on 88 carries (3.7 average) and six touchdowns. The Eagles are the lone unbeaten team in the league at 8-0, as well.