To end, let us examine the player who just beat the Saints: Jalen Hurts.
It is safe to say that Hurts had a very successful college career. As a freshman and sophomore, he led Alabama to consecutive national championship game appearances. Obviously, he was then benched as a sophomore in the championship game for Tua Tagovailoa, but that didn’t stop him; he was a Heisman candidate at the University of Oklahoma in 2019.
With such a resume, Hurts had a great case to be a first-round pick. However, NFL teams didn’t feel that way.
Much was made about his lack of anticipatory throws, and overall narratives hurt him. For starters, Big-12 quarterbacks are always working at a disadvantage, and the fact that he lost the job to Tagovailoa made his career at Alabama seem less impactful.
To top it off, he certainly didn’t excite old-school evaluators with his 6’1″ frame; there were some that didn’t even see him as a legitimate quarterback prospect.
Yet, it is clear that there was far too much concern over what Hurts couldn’t do, rather than what he could do.
Simply put, how many quarterbacks with 4.55 40-yard dash speed are paired with tremendous accuracy? He might not be as dynamic as Jackson, but he is more accurate, and for that reason, I believe that Hurts being a second-round pick was a major discredit to his overall talent.
With the 24th overall pick, the Saints could have taken Hurts to be their future starting quarterback.
As mentioned, Payton has shown the ability to build an offensive scheme with a rushing quarterback, and if he could do so with Hill, doing so with a more dynamic and accurate quarterback could lead to elite offensive production.
Plus, Hurts would be doing this on a rookie contract! Instead, they selected interior offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz, who has been in-and-out of the starting lineup this season.
Now, Hurts didn’t play great against New Orleans on Sunday- his 5.57 yards/attempt was underwhelming, and the Eagles benefitted greatly from strong defense and rushing success.
However, Hurts played a great role in that success. Not only did he have rush for 106 yards and 5.89 yards/attempt, but the fear of him as a runner certainly helped Philadelphia’s running backs rush for an extra 119 yards against the league’s top run defense. Additionally, he didn’t take a sack, which is something that cannot be overlooked.
Remember, Carson Wentz took 53 sacks over the first 12 games in the season. Thus, the fact that Hurts didn’t take a single sack, nor did he throw an interception, against a stout pass rush, is extremely impressive.
Once again, hindsight is 20/20, but this isn’t just the Saints’ problem; the poor process behind passing on Hurts is a reflection of the flaws in evaluating quarterbacks.