NORMAN, Okla. — People were curious how Jalen Hurts would adjust at Oklahoma following an unconventional career at Alabama.
Now those curiosities will follow him to Philadelphia.
The Eagles selected Hurts in the NFL Draft’s second round at No. 53 overall Friday, making him the third former Oklahoma player taken this week.
He'll go up against his former receiver, CeeDee Lamb, in the NFC East. Lamb was drafted by the Cowboys on Thursday.
The Eagles are committed to quarterback Carson Wentz, but Hurts' versatility has opened interesting possibilities about how teams could use him.
He’s considered one of the best athletes at his position in the draft and has a strong leadership reputation dating back to his time at Alabama.
Hurts’ well-documented journey began as a freshman starter for the Crimson Tide. But after being relegated to a backup role in the 2018 national championship game, then remaining in Tuscaloosa for one more season as a reserve, he made a high-profile transfer to OU.
With the Sooners he became a Heisman Trophy runner-up, setting an OU quarterback record with 1,298 rushing yards — his improved completion rate of 70 percent eased some concerns about his accuracy.
Hurts ranked first in the nation in yards per pass attempt at 11.3, just a hair behind the FBS record.
But pinpoint passing remains one of his question marks. Staying in the pocket and making better decisions must be points of emphasis in the NFL, scouts say.
Otherwise, he’s a durable runner whose success rate is unquestioned. Hurts was part of 52 collegiate victories and went 38-4 as a starter.
“I think he's just become way more of a factor in the throwing game,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “I think people see that he improved a lot his junior year at Alabama when he wasn't the starter, and then I think this year was head and shoulders above that. I think he's come a long way in that regard, been able to do it and have success at different schools with different systems, which I think always bodes well.”
Riley stated in a release he feels Hurts’ best days are ahead.
A stoic character whose emotions don’t show often, Hurts was shown on ESPN with little, if any, reaction to being drafted.
His selection continued Riley’s run of NFL quarterbacks.
OU is not only the first program to produce QB picks in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft in three consecutive years — before that, no school had ever produced QB picks in the first five rounds in three straight seasons.
Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield were both picked No. 1 overall the past two seasons.
The Eagles’ plans for Hurts aren’t clear. The pick was regarded by some as a surprise.
Wentz was picked No. 2 overall by the team in 2016 and led it to the NFC’s top seed in his second season, before an injury left him out of the team’s run to the Super Bowl title.
Riley said he hopes Hurts can find continuity at the next level.
One thread that runs from Philadelphia to Norman surrounds a fourth-down play that helped the Eagles beat the Patriots in the 2018 Super Bowl.
Just before halftime, Foles moved out from under center so running back Corey Clement could take the snap — then Clement handed off to tight end Trey Burton, who threw to a touchdown to Foles.
The Sooners have their own, almost identical version of the play. They ran it in the 2017-18 Rose Bowl with Mayfield taking the snap, initiating a reverse, then catching a TD pass.
That type of action suits Hurts well, and he ran it to success against Oklahoma State last fall.
Draft pundits expect him to stay at quarterback, but believe teams will use him creatively.