2020 NFL Draft: Wither Jalen Hurts – Shameful Impatience with Black QBs Take Two

As we approach the 2020 NFL Draft one of the interesting questions is “Why isn’t Jalen Hurts thought of as a 1st round draft pick?” At first glance this is a throw back to the plight of the disrespected black quarterback.

Another take is how Hurts and Oklahoma were overwhelmed in a 63-28 Peach Bowl loss to eventual champion LSU with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. Was the moment too big for Hurts??

Of course not..

Didn’t Jalen Hurts quarterback Alabama to the National Championship Game as a freshman 4 years ago?? How did he become the most forgotten signal caller in this year’s draft class??

One of the attributes Hurts has been able to forge was his strength of character after his controversial benching during the 2018 National Championship Game. Hurts had struggled all season in maturing with hitting the open receiver downfield. Speculation loomed that Coach Saban would turn to the new flavor of the month in Tua Tagovailoa. When he did at halftime of the championship game, Hurts took it admirably. He didn’t sulk, make any tense moments on the sideline and displayed a team first mentality throughout. This was a benching with 50 million viewers watching.

Isn’t this an attribute NFL teams profess they want to know all the time? How will a franchise QB respond when things go against him??

Hurts didn’t say a word backing up Tua the next season and then became a graduate transfer to become an Oklahoma Sooner. Under the watchful eye of Coach Lincoln Riley, Hurts developed into a QB no one saw when he left Alabama. The ability to read coverage and deliver the medium to deep throw was now a sharply refined part of his game. Hurts became the 1st QB to lead two different teams into the College Football Playoff and was a Heisman Trophy Finalist.

His passing improvement in Norman vs. his last full season at Alabama?

  • Alabama 2017 – 154 of 255 (60.4%) for 2,081 yds 17 TDs 1 int. (150.2 rating)
  • Oklahoma 2019 – 237 of 340 (69.7%) for 3,821 yds 32 TDs 8 ints (191.6 rating)

He learned a completely new offense and improved on his skill under a new coach to this degree in 4 months while being voted a captain!

Isn’t this the number one issue with quarterbacks making the jump to the NFL?? Quarterbacks ability to learn in the classroom then translate it to the practice field then into the game. Talk to me about Marcus Mariota, Mitch Trubisky, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, Jameis Winston, Dwayne Haskins over the last two years.

Now add his rushing statistics from Oklahoma: 233 att for 1,298 yards and 20 TDs and now you’re in Lamar Jackson territory. Upon further review Hurts had 52 combined TDs to Jackson’s 51in his last season at Louisville. Wasn’t Jackson last year’s Taylor Blitz Player of the Year along with a unanimous NFL MVP??

If Hurts is perceived a better passer than Jackson how is he thought of as a 3rd round selection?? This is the next in line of dual threat QBs behind Super Bowl MVP and former NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes and last year’s MVP Lamar Jackson and is given the cold shoulder by a media that keeps devaluing black quarterbacks at draft time.

So here we are again with the sequel to The NFL’s Shameful Impatience With Black Quarterbacks.

Heisman winner Joe Burrow had a season for the ages and deserves to be the number one pick but no one else should be up with Hurts. Google the top QBs in the 2020 draft class and Hurts isn’t even in the top 5 according to Athlon Sports. They have him 8th behind Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Jordan Love, Jake Fromm, Jacob Eason, and Nate Stanley of Iowa. These guys can’t be serious…

Nate Stanley of Iowa??

Justin Herbert of Oregon??

Jacob Eason of Washington??

Jordan Love of Utah State??

Hurts starred facing SEC defenses and faced ‘Bama’s 2nd string in practice which is better than any Pac 12 defense. These guys are going to try to match up to NFL speed on defense based on what? Thanks to the Corona Virus… no OTAs either so when are they going to be up to speed?

No wonder I stopped reading Athlon and started writing. These teams that keep drafting by the book and have been losing for 30 years need to do something different and look at the trend at QB. Hurts’ entire college career has been a trial by fire to match what he will have to go through entering the pro ranks. No one, including Joe Burrow has proven they have the mettle to do it more than Hurts.

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Portrait of Persistance

Florida's steady John Brantley

There are many times in a players career where they will be at a crossroads as to what they should do or question whether they chose to attend the right school.  What happens when you replace a legend?? What must that crucible be like to go through to follow one of the most celebrated athletes in the history of college football?? For John Brantley of Florida, its been a  compelling study. He was more than familiar with the legendary Tim Tebow having played his high school ball right there in the state of Florida. In fact he broke Tebow’s record for touchdown passes by a Florida prep quarterback with 99, while attending Trinity Catholic in Ocala, Florida.

What’s made this journey so compelling is what he’s had to endure and yet remain a leader for the Florida Gators. The first thing that comes to mind is listening in stunned amazement, as he was booed at home against Miami of  Ohio. It was the first game of the post Tim Tebow era and the Gators were on their way to a 34-10 win. Yet in the second quarter the offense was sluggish and bogged down a few times. One time the camera panned in close to him on the sideline when the crowd at  Ben Hill Griffin started in and you couldn’t help but feel for him. “The Swamp” let the team have it and let’s be honest, they were on Brantley for not being Tim Tebow. We never heard that during Tebow’s years. You couldn’t help but feel for him on that day and it cast a pall over that game and the rest of an 8-5 season. Urban Meyer’s last year at the helm.

In 2010, Brantley had a sporadic year throwing for 2,061 yards while completing 200 of 329 for 9TDs and 10 int’s. Yet keep something in mind, he has always been a drop back passer and nowhere in Urban Meyer’s offense had he been developed plays that accentuated his talents. Not in the way that there were specific plays to aid Tebow early in his career. Think back to win Tebow stepped in and played as a freshman while Chris Leak was still there. They developed plays for Tebow that would grant him success early on, to build confidence and get to learn the college game. Brantley wasn’t afforded that luxury. Had he been, where would he be on the path to success right now??

Brantley scrambling for yards agianst Miami of Ohio in 2010

Yet one of the intangibles that did forge was  was  an unshakable belief in himself. A quarterback who was unsure if he’d remain in Florida’s future, stayed with his commitment and was awarded Offensive Co-ordinator Charlie Weiss. Weiss is an offensive guru with a serious hand on the pro passing game that accentuates Brantley’s strengths. At 6’3, 219 lbs as a drop back passer who can see over the rush, Brantley should throw for more than 30TDs this season. Weiss knows the passing game that will take him to the next level and beyond in the NFL. Think not?? Look, last year Kansas City Chief’s quarterback Matt Cassell was among the NFL’s leading passers with 27TDs and only 7 ints. Without Weiss, he’s thrown for 3 TDs with 5 ints in only 3 games. Seriously…not making that up.

Brantley will further develop in Weiss’ system and the SEC will be his foil as he improves on his accuracy. Do you realize that his efficiency rating is 148.1 this year as opposed to 116.4 last year?? http://espn.go.com/college-football/player/_/id/235158/john-brantley Does he have the right guy to elevate his game in Charlie Weiss?? Listen it was under his tutelage that journeyman quarterback Vinny Testaverde became a pro bowl quarterback in the NFL for the first time after 12 years. Then he developed a young Tom Brady into being a Super Bowl winning quarterback. What do you think he’ll do with a pro prospect like Brantley against 18- 20 year olds in the SEC??

With Brantley, the SEC  will be a foil as he develops his game. It’s almost a shame it had to come so late in his career but with a showdown with conference leader Alabama, what better time than to showcase his talent than now?? Showcase he’s dodged the burbs of football pundits and rival fans. Although I am a Miami Hurricane fanatic, I know a real dropback passer when I see one. He’s an excellent pocket passer who should do well in today’s game against the Crimson Tide. He will grow over the next couple of months into  a total pro quarterback prospect. Prediction…??

#12 Florida 4-0 (2-0 conf) v. #3 Alabama 4-0 (1-0 conf)

Is Alabama really ready for a quarterback who once outperformed Cam Newton?? Not, Gators!!