Jalen Hurd, Receiver
School: Baylor | Conference: Big-12
College Experience: RS Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-4 / 227 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Round 4-7
NFL Comparison: Trey Burton
Sat out 2017 season (NCAA Transfer rules).
Currently listed at 6-foot-4, 227-pounds, Hurd has reinvented himself from a 240 pound smash mouth SEC running back to a wide receiver in the high flying Big-12. There are MANY chapters in this story.
Hurd started off at Tennessee, entering as a five-star recruit, who immediately made his presence felt. As a true freshman, Hurd started nine games, rushing for 899 yard and caught 35 passes in 2014.
His breakout season came in 2015, when Hurd rushed for 1,288 yards, adding 22 receptions, with 14 combined touchdowns. Hurd capped his breakout season with an Outback Bowl MVP.
Entering the 2016 season, Hurd was considered by many to be a surefire first round pick had he stayed at Tennessee, while earning comparisons to Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and Eddie George.
Then midway through the 2016 season, Hurd surprisingly announced he was transferring, saying he was not happy with his role in the offense, and had sustained multiple injuries that season, including a concussion.
Before his transfer, Hurd had started 29 games at running back for Tennessee, where he ranks six in team history with 2,638 yards rushing yards, adding 20 rushing touchdowns, 67 receptions, 492 receiving yards, and 6 receiving touchdowns.
Per NCAA transfer rule, Hurd was forced to sit out the 2017 season, before emerging as Baylor’s starting slot receiver and offensive weapon in 2018.
The man who relegated Alvin Kamara to the bench
Remember when the draft media went crazy for the back-up running back at Tennessee? Back then, Hurd’s lead role in the Tennessee offense relegated Alvin Kamara to a change of pace back, despite evidence that Hurd was the less explosive player (Hurd averaged 3.7 yards per carry before leaving the Vols in 2016, while Kamara averaged 5.8 yards per carry that season).
Explains Hurd, I didn’t just do this on a whim. I researched it...Running backs last 3.5 years in the NFL. Wide receivers can last 10 or more years.”
For more on Hurd’s backstory, read NFL.com’s Baylor WR Jalen Hurd’s imperfect, but calculated path to the NFL
Named to Bruce Feldman’s “freaks list” all the way back in 2015, Hurd will be one of the most freakish athletes in the upcoming draft. At 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, he can run the 40-yard dash in 4.47 seconds. His testing numbers at Baylor would have made him a top-five receiver at last year’s combine in every event but the 40: bench press (20 reps), vertical jump (40 inches), broad jump (10-10), three-cone drill (6.60) and 20-yard shuttle (3.87).
Hurd finished with 11 receptions for 135 yards against a Kansas State secondary which lines up a couple of next-level prospects. Hurd also added 56 rushing yards with one touchdown on eight carries.
Here is his Baylor highlight tape:
Here is Hurd’s sophomore highlights as a Tennessee RB who rushed for 1,288 yards adding 22 receptions, with 14 combined touchdowns in 2015.
Here is Hurd against Georgia. Among others, you can see a young Leonard Floyd, who will be entering his fourth season in the NFL.
Finally, Hurd shows some blocking prowess (2015 vs Alabama):
Why I think Baylor WR/Ex-Tennessee RB Jalen Hurd projects best as an H-Back, ala Trey Burton is he can block better than a normal receiver. pic.twitter.com/fw3e065m8z— Durst (@DurstNFLDraft) February 16, 2019
- Hurd is an athletic freak, who quickly lived up to his 5-star HS pedigree by becoming the workhorse of the Tennessee offense.
- His time at running back make him dangerous after the catch and he is experienced in pass-pro.
- His film is full of current pros, including the Redskins’ Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson, Leonard Floyd, and there were times where Hurd appeared to be one of the best players on the field.
- Has elite size for a receiver.
- He appears to have natural hands.
- Could offer unique roster flexibility
- Despite having nearly a 1000 yards receiving in 2018, Hurd is still a project at receiver, with few reps on the outside.
- Because of his long legs, Hurd is kind of a “strider”. He’s not really one of those quickness in and out of breaks guy that you typically see with most RB/WR hybrids.
- Struggles gearing down to make cuts, fails to sell route fakes, and needs countess hours working on releases, hand usage, and adding varying speed to his routes.
- Minimal experience vs any kind of press coverage.
- Versatility may not be as valuable as it seems, as he has emphasized he does not want to play running back, and Hurd was not (minimally?) used on special teams while at Tennessee or Baylor.
- Hurd had knee surgery on December 4th, missing Baylor’s bowl game, and he was only able to do interviews at the Senior Bowl. Had multiple injuries at Tennessee, including a concussion.
- One has to be impressed with Hurd’s play this past season, but there is a belief by many that he selfishly quit on his team, which in the mind of many locker rooms (coaches and teammates) is the worst sin of all.
What Others Are Saying
NFL Network’s Lance Zierlein: ”Hurd was used as big slot but he might need to transition into a role outside to take advantage of his potential to stretch the field as a downfield ball-winner. He’s still learning the nuances of the position, but he has outstanding traits, a great work ethic and an ability to get much better very quickly. While Hurd will be an NFL receiver, he offers a unique option of becoming a short-yardage banger near the goal line. His best days are in front of him.”
The Draft Network’s Kyle Crabbs: “Understandably raw after playing RB at Tennessee from 2014-2016 prior to transfer. Has much better success in free releases and when able to press up on his stems uncontested. Long road ahead to become a full-fledged starting receiver but he’s certainly got the tools.”
Anonymous scout: “All he had to do was finish out that last season at Tennessee, and he gets picked in the middle of the first round, and he’s making a lot of money,” an NFL scout told Bleacher Report. “Now there’s a lot of questions.”
The NFL Network’s Charles Davis (right after his transfer): ”I like him as a running back,” said Davis “If he’s switching...I would envision him to move to tight end first. But a look at wide receiver’s like Carolina’s monsters (Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess) would make you take a look at him out wide too.”
How He Would Fit On The Redskins
To me, Hurd projects as a Trey Burton-type H-back player at the next level. However, that would require a third position switch. Such a move may not prove as difficult as it may sound. Early in his career, Hurd showed to be very effective in pass protection, albeit from the running back position. Also, working as a “big slot” in Baylors’ scheme would not be much different than how the Eagles and Bears have utilized Burton, who himself played multiple positions while at Florida.
While it may take a couple of years before he is ready to start, Hurd has flashed some traits of another former Gator - Jordan Reed.
Undoubtedly, a project Hurd has become an afterthought during the draft process. Matt Miller slotted him in the fifth round in his 7-round mock draft. NFL Draft Scout lists him as just a 7th round/UDFA. However, I have him as a fringe top-100 prospect (late 3rd/early 4th) pending his NFL Combine performance, which is expected live up to Hurd’s 5-star pedigree.