Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Jalen Hurd, WR of Baylor. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
If you’re looking for an intriguing prospect in the upcoming NFL draft, I have just the guy for you: Jalen Hurd. A high-level recruit who transitioned from running back to wide receiver half-way through college, Hurd has ideal height and weight, and showed significant promise after playing only one season at his new position.
The wide receiver class of 2019 is really deep and has a lot of talented players, which could push Hurd toward the end if the NFL draft. Let’s dive in!
A five-star recruit out of high school, Hurd was a top ten player in the country at the running back position, and for good reason. He won Tennessee’s Mr. Football in 2012 with 3,357 rushing yards and 43 touchdowns in one season (both state records). Those are some absurd stats.
While playing in 13 games as a true freshman at Tennessee, Hurd led the Volunteers in rushing (190-899-5), showing promise as a running back who could also catch the ball out of the backfield (35-221-2 receiving). He was selected as a second-team All-SEC pick, starting all 13 games his sophomore year. He led the Vols again in rushing (277-1,285-12), and added 22 receptions for 190 yards and two more touchdowns.
At this point, Hurd was becoming a dynasty devy darling (try saying that five times fast). Back-to-back seasons of over 1,100 yards of total offense had dynasty owners excited for him to hit the pros.
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Circumstances changed in 2016. He started the first seven games of the year, posting over 500 total yards and five total touchdowns. He then suffered a concussion in week eight. The story is that Hurd approached his coaches about a position change due to the toll the running back position was taking on his body, including head trauma. His coaches declined to move him, so he decided to transfer to a school that would accept him as a wide receiver.
Baylor accepted his transfer request in 2017, and Hurd sat out the entire year while working to grasp the wideout position. In 2018, he played at wide receiver for the Baylor Bears, but his coaches still sprinkled him in as a running back on occasion resulting in a 48-209-3 rushing line. He had a surprisingly good year and won the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year award, leading the Bears in receiving (69-946-4) while playing in 12 games.
Jalen Hurd has been a wide receiver for 12 games and is already improved on his route running immensely.
– Uses his length and frame well
– Sells routes well
– Super quick learner@DLFootball @MyFantasyLeague #Dynasty #NFLDraft pic.twitter.com/XRGe47gKKC
— Levi Chappell (@LeviChappell) April 16, 2019
When watching the film on Hurd, there are a lot of things to be excited about, especially knowing that he has played only one full season at wide receiver.
The main concern regarding a player with limited at a given position before jumping to the NFL is, ultimately, whether he can play the position well. How is his route running? Does he understand the nuances of the position? These are valid questions, and I think Hurd did an admirable job answering them in his first season at the position.
After watching a lot of tape, I was surprised to see very good route running. He played a lot in the slot though, so he will have to expand his route running tree in order to move to the outside where he can be really effective. He also struggled with varying the speed of his routes.
He plays really well against man coverage, uses aggressive movements to sell his routes and get open, wins jump balls, and uses his frame to bully cornerbacks. He also has zero fear about running slants across the middle of the field and making tough catches in a crowded area.
We can’t ignore the fact that he is 6’5” and almost 230 lbs. You can’t teach size, and Hurd figured out how to use his large frame effectively, especially on deep balls. We’d also do well to remember that he has a very unique skill set, allowing a team to occasionally use him as a running back and utilize his size and rushing skills near the goal line or in other short yardage situations.
Hurd did not participate in many drills at the NFL combine, but he did put up an impressive 23 reps on the bench. Earlier this month Baylor held their pro day, where he ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash, 4.18 shuttle, and had a 35.5 inch vertical. I was surprised to see him run a slower 40 time of 4.66, because he appears much faster than that on tape.
Looking at his spider chart courtesy of Mock Draftable, the most flattering comp is Kenny Golladay, another big, strong wide receiver who uses his body to fight off corners.
After diving into his tape, two guys came to mind regarding play style and physical stature. The first was Jordan Matthews, who played the majority of his snaps out of the slot. While I think Hurd could make the biggest impact from the outside, Matthews is proof that you can have solid production while playing out of the slot.
The other player that he reminds me of is Terrelle Pryor. Hurd and Pryor have almost identical height and weight, and they both made the transition to wide receiver.
According to DLF’s April 2019 Rookie Dynasty ADP, Hurd is being taken as the 44th rookie overall (WR20). Drafted as early as the 31st pick and as late as pick 49, you might find him available in the mid-late fourth round. That is fantastic value for a player who has quite a bit of upside. I would be comfortable selecting him as a late third-rounder.
He is expected to be selected on day three of the NFL draft. I could see a team drafting him as high as the fourth round if they like what he brings to the table as far as physical attributes and versatility.
Hurd is a big, strong running back turned receiver that has all the physical traits you look for in a prototypical NFL wide receiver.
Assessing later round wide receiver prospects, you hope they’re drafted to a team lacking in depth at the wide receiver position. This gives each player a chance to showcase their skills. There are two landing spots in particular where I think Hurd might eventually get a shot at making an impact:
- Lacking depth at wide receiver, the San Francisco 49ers could use a big-bodied receiver to make plays down the field.
- One of the worst teams when it comes to successful deep targets in 2018, the New York Jets could employ Hurd’s skill set to improve in this area. While Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder, and Quincy Enunwa (long list of injuries) plan to round out the starters, they desperately need some depth at the position.
Follow me on Twitter @LeviChappell.
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