Jalen Hurd took the road less traveled in his path to the NFL. He was a five star running back coming out of high school and started over Alvin Kamara at Tennessee. After three seasons playing running back for the Volunteers, Hurd made the decision to transfer to Baylor and switch to wide receiver.
It was a puzzling move. Hurd was a very productive back at Tennessee and was rated by some draft experts to be an early round pick if he had declared. Instead, Hurd sat out the entire 2017 season due to transfer regulations. Hurd learned the wide receiver position during this time and made some outstanding plays for Baylor.
By no means is Hurd a finished product as a wide receiver. The NFL team that picks him is going to have to be patient as Hurd goes through growing pains associated with learning the position, but he is already well ahead of schedule. Plays like the one above are an encouraging sign for what the future holds for Hurd as a wide receiver.
In this play against Texas, Hurd runs this route and creates separation from the defender covering him. The double move that Hurd uses is a difficult route for any wide receiver to pull off and Hurd makes it look easy. I actually think Hurd’s time as a running back helped him make this move. This cut is similar to making a cut as a ball carrier. Hurd makes the catch and uses his speed to run along the sideline for a big gain.
In this play against Oklahoma State, Hurd gets a way with a small push off and makes the catch. I enjoyed this play because Hurd uses his long arms as a way to get open and then has the awareness to go for the first down after he makes the catch. The push off was subtle and prohibited the corner from putting his hands on him to break up the route. The catch is made with ease and the first down is made.
Dynamic After the Catch
Hurd makes this play against TCU and uses his running back background to break tackles after the catch. It’s not often you find a player of Hurd’s height and size that is able to make these kind of moves. Hurd is able to break two tackles and forces another defender to stop dead in his tracks and turn a complete 180 to try to catch up to him.
Even though Hurd made the switch to wide receiver, Hurd still lined up at running back for Baylor from time to time. This is the best aspect of Hurd’s game. A creative play caller in the NFL is going to have a field day moving Hurd around the field and figuring out ways to give him the ball. Hurd has fantastic vision as he waits for running lanes to develop. Everything just seems easy for Hurd. Line him up outside, check. Put him in the slot, check. Put him at running back, check. It is not often that you have a player on your offense that is more than capable to play both running back and wide receiver.
Player Comparison: Cordarrelle Patterson
When thinking of a dynamic versatile playmaker, Cordarrelle Patterson was what came to my head. Although I believe Hurd has a higher ceiling than Patterson, the two players do have similar skill sets and can line up at multiple positions. Hurd is not the special teams threat that Patterson is however.
Team Fit: Indianapolis Colts (4th-5th Round)
I want Hurd to go to a team that will embrace his talents at both running back and wide receiver. With head coach Frank Reich at the helm, the Colts are the perfect team to get creative and utilize Hurd’s skill set. Plus, having Andrew Luck throwing to you isn’t a bad way to help you learn a new position.