Is Jalen Hurts the Next Lamar Jackson?
Lamar Jackson has revolutionized the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens, with his unstoppable ability of being the ultimate duel-threat quarterback. The Ravens have been dominant on offense due to the brilliance of Jackson. The 22-year-old has tormented even the best defenses in the league, weaving his way down the field, displaying unique speed and elusive traits.However, the difference between Jackson and other running quarterbacks has been his arm and the propensity to make deadly accurate throws under pressure. Baltimore have remoulded their identity around him and it’s a decision that could pay dividends, with the franchise currently backed in the NFL betting odds at +260 to win the Super Bowl. John Harbaugh’s men are playing excellent football and the trend in the NFL has been to copy success. For the past couple of years, it has been to emulate the Los Angeles Rams’ offense and look for a head coach in the mould of Sean McVay.
Certainly now teams will be scouring the 2020 NFL Draft for the next Jackson. He could already be in the NFL, with Kyler Murray displaying a similar skill set. The Arizona Cardinals could see the benefit of that approach in the coming seasons as they look to bounce back to relevance in the NFC Conference. For the rest of the NFL, there are a number of promising quarterbacks emerging from the college ranks. Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa – albeit the latter is injured – are the consensus top quarterbacks available. Both are not quite the athletes of Jackson’s caliber, but have the ability to keep defenses honest. It would be a stunning development to see a different quarterback selected ahead of them.
The Raven selected Jackson right at the end of the first round of the 2018 Draft. A player that could fit that mould would be the Oklahoma Sooners’ Jalen Hurts. The rise of Tagovailoa at Alabama ousted Hurts from the Crimson Tide and ushered him into the hands of the Sooners. Under Lincoln Riley, Hurts has flourished in the Big 12, producing levels of brilliance with his arm and feet on a weekly basis. At the time of writing, the 21-year-old has guided the Sooners to an 11-1 record, pushing for a place in the playoffs.
Hurts has the unique ability that Jackson possesses. He wins more with his legs than his arm, although he does have 3,347 passing yards to his name and 31 touchdowns to only six interceptions after 12 games of the 2019 season. However, his 1,218 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns will appeal to NFL teams in search of their Jackson. If the NFL is heading towards an offensive system for the run-pass option or simply just a quarterback that runs first and looks for the pass second, Hurts could be the dynamic playmaking that teams require. It would be interesting to see where he could land with a team in the back end of the first round.
The New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots both have veteran quarterbacks nearing the end of their careers. Replacing legends at both franchises would be daunting, although a change in identity like the Ravens have done with Jackson could ease the transition. Hurts might just be the next quarterback off the Sooners-Riley production line to take the NFL by storm.