PHILADELPHIA -- By selecting Jalen Hurts in the second round of the 2020 NFL draft, the Philadelphia Eagles reaffirmed core principles that have served them quite well in recent years: to think beyond convention, to act boldly, and to invest heavily in the quarterback position.
But in doing so, they arguably went against a philosophy that has driven much of their decision-making since 2016: setting Carson Wentz up for maximum success.
The Hurts pick at No. 53 overall sent instant shock waves through Philadelphia. They drafted a quarterback? In the second round? After just giving Wentz a $128 million extension? Debate erupted and speculation swirled.
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman assured the confused masses that Wentz is 100 percent healthy and still has full organizational support.
"We think that this is the most important position in sports, and we felt like this was a proven winner, a guy [in Hurts] who is an incredible teammate," Roseman said. "He's going to strengthen that quarterback room. There's no doubt we have a Pro-Bowl, 27-year-old quarterback, but we've seen the value of quarterbacks on our football team."
Look no further than the 2017 signing of Nick Foles, who stepped in for an injured Wentz and kept Philadelphia's Super Bowl run alive. Roseman said the team didn't view the Hurts pick much differently than the Foles move a few years back, in part because Hurts possesses a similar supportive, team-first mentality.
There are differences, though. Hurts is an ascending, dynamic playmaker who accounted for a ridiculous 52 of Oklahoma's touchdowns last season (32 passing, 20 rushing). Foles' stock was near a low point when he rejoined Philadelphia, just a year removed from pondering retirement following a rocky season with the then-St. Louis Rams before being convinced by his old coach, Andy Reid, to join him as a backup in Kansas City.
Foles' wild success during his second stint in Philadelphia created an awkward situation for Wentz, who was trying to climb back from injury and establish command of the team in the wake of historic team achievement led by his backup. Anonymous critics surfaced and allegiances were questioned. Though Foles was a top-notch teammate by all accounts, his departure last offseason provided Wentz with the oxygen he needed. Wentz elevated a young group of unheralded skill players and led the team to four straight wins to secure a playoff berth and cement himself once more as the Eagles' leader on offense.
Eagles GM Roseman explains the Hurts pick
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman breaks down what went into the decision to draft Jalen Hurts.
The addition of Hurts comes on the heels of that journey, and adds a new wrinkle to what has been a twist-filled career for Wentz to date. The Eagles not only went against NFL norms by using a second-round pick on a quarterback with their franchise QB still in his prime, but plan to play him. Coach Doug Pederson said they are going to explore using Hurts the way the Baltimore Ravens did Lamar Jackson when he was a rookie behind Joe Flacco, and will also look at the Taysom Hill/Drew Brees setup in New Orleans.
That means Wentz, fresh off the Foles experience, will likely be asked to give up snaps in favor of Hurts, and endure all the questions and speculation that will inevitably follow should Hurts experience success or Wentz stumble -- noise that will be amplified tenfold in a market such as Philadelphia.
In Baltimore, Jackson was on his way up and Flacco on his way out. Brees, a future Hall of Famer, is so clearly entrenched as the man in New Orleans that there's not a man alive who could threaten his gig. Neither situation applies in this scenario.
Normally, teams wait until their franchise QB is in the twilight of his career before drafting a quarterback high. The Green Bay Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round Thursday, but Aaron Rodgers is 36 -- a year older than Brett Favre was when the Packers took Rodgers 24th overall in 2005. Tom Brady was in his mid-30s when the Patriots selected Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round.
Wentz is 27.
The way the Eagles see it, they got better at the most important position without having to throw big money at a veteran who might not even pan out. And by going against the normal practice of drafting a QB in the mid-to-late rounds, they increased the chances of hitting on the prospect. They have seen the benefit of investing in quarterbacks in their recent history, whether it be on the field [Foles, Jeff Garcia] or via eventual trade [A.J. Feeley, Sam Bradford]. And by drafting Hurts, they have taken out a meaningful insurance policy should Wentz, who has been injured each of the past three seasons, go down again.
All of that makes sense. Indeed, the drafting of Hurts might prove to be a trendsetting move that influences how organizations attack the quarterback position moving forward.
On the other hand, convention is often convention for a reason. Teams that are in Philadelphia's position don't usually draft a quarterback high in part because it can create a distraction and runs the risk of sending mixed signals both to QB1 and the locker room; and when you have a quarterback in his prime, the high picks are typically used on projected starters who can help maximize that window of opportunity.
The Eagles' history suggests having a good No. 2 quarterback is just as, if not more, important. And they are banking on two strong-character players in Wentz and Hurts to make it all work.
And it very well might. But when you combine this city with these circumstances, where a young dynamo in Hurts will be part of the offense and perhaps cut into Wentz's snaps, you have the ingredients for potential controversy, real or imagined.
And that seems like the last thing Wentz needs, having just cleared a long pocket of turbulence.