More Sports:

July 02, 2024

Eagles 2024 training camp preview: Quarterback

The pressure is back on Jalen Hurts following the Eagles' second-half implosion last season.

Eagles NFL
061924KennyPickettJalenHurts Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Kenny Pickett (7) and Jalen Hurts (1).

Over the next three or so weeks (basically whenever there isn't other news to cover), we'll take a look at every player on the Philadelphia Eagles' roster, and how they fit with the team heading into training camp. As always, we'll start with the quarterback factory.

QB1 QB2 QB3 QB4 
Jalen Hurts Kenny Pickett Tanner McKee Will Grier 

Jalen Hurts

The perception of Jalen Hurts this time two years ago — after his first full season as a starter in 2021 — was that he was an intelligent, hard-working quarterback with leadership qualities who could make plays with his legs, but had serious flaws as a passer, most notably inaccuracy as well as a lack of refinement within the pocket. 

During the 2022 offseason, the team had interest in trading for Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson, neither of whom wanted to play in Philly (thankfully for the Eagles' sake), so nothing materialized. Hurts was then essentially given a one-year tryout to convince the team that they should move forward with him as their quarterback.

2022 training camp: Pressure ON.

In 2022, Hurts made drastic improvements, as he was rightfully the MVP runner-up to Patrick Mahomes, with the Eagles going 14-1 (plus 2-1 in the playoffs) in games he started. Including the playoffs, he threw 25 TDs vs. 6 INTs as a passer, and he rushed for 903 yards and 18 TDs, cementing his status as a star player and the face of the franchise. 

He was rewarded with a five-year contract worth $255 million. By the time 2023 training camp had begun, he was considered the unquestioned leader of the team, with extreme job security.

2023 training camp: Pressure OFF.

In 2023, Hurts took a step backwards. As you're all aware, the Eagles started out 10-1, with six of those wins coming against teams that would eventually make the playoffs. Hurts was squarely in the conversation for league MVP at the time, even though novice fans could pretty easily see that he and the team as a whole were not playing nearly as well as the 2022 team that often dominated opponents. From December on, the Eagles abruptly went from a Super Bowl favorite with at least a two-game lead over every other team in the league to one of the worst teams in the NFL. 

Hurts was part of the problem, as he did not play well down the stretch, and his leadership skills — again, always thought to be the biggest checkmark in his favor — came into question. How effectively will he pick up Kellen Moore's scheme? How is he interacting with teammates? Is he making quick reads and getting the ball out instead of looking to extend plays at the first sign of pressure? Those questions — and plenty of others — will be under the microscope this summer.

2024 training camp: Pressure back ON.

Kenny Pickett

The Eagles made a surprise move during free agency when they dealt for Pickett, who was a Steelers first-round pick (20th overall) in the 2022 NFL Draft. The trade compensation was as follows:

Eagles get: Steelers get: 
QB Kenny Pickett 3rd round pick (98th overall) in 2024 
4th round pick (120th overall) in 2024) 7th round pick in 2025 
 7th round pick in 2025 

Using the draft value chart, the swap of the 98th overall pick and the 120th overall pick is the equivalent of a fourth-round pick.

The Eagles did a lot of homework on Pickett leading up to the 2022 draft, as they were not yet sold on Hurts as the franchise quarterback at the time. Pickett started 12 games both as a rookie in 2022 and then again in 2023, with a 7-5 record in each season. His passing stats:

Kenny Pickett Comp-Att (Comp %) Yards (YPA) TD-INT Rating 
2022 245-389 (63.0%) 2404 (6.2) 7-9 76.7 
2023 201-324 (62.0%) 2070 (6.4) 6-4 81.4 

While Pickett hasn't turned the ball over at a high rate (particularly in 2023 when he threw just 4 INTs), his 13 TD passes in 24 career starts is an abnormally low number, as is his career 6.3 yards per pass attempt. The Steelers' offense averaged 14.7 points per game in Pickett's 12 starts in 2023.

Pickett suffered a high ankle sprain late in the season, but when he was well enough to play again, the Steelers continued to start Pickett's backup, Mason Rudolph, rather than insert Pickett back into the starting lineup. 

Pickett was reportedly upset with the Steelers' signing of Russell Wilson this offseason:

In Philadelphia, Pickett will play behind a quarterback in Hurts who is far more entrenched as the starter than Wilson is in Pittsburgh. He might also have to fend off Tanner McKee for the No. 2 job. It's worth noting that Pickett did make some nice throws during spring practices.

Tanner McKee

McKee had a good training camp and preseason showing last year, but we (as in, the media) did not get to watch him practice once training camp wrapped. As such, it was unknown whether his play fell off during regular season practices or if he continued to impress. The team's trade for Pickett this offseason showed that the Eagles were not yet ready to crown McKee as the No. 2 quarterback, but in my opinion, he was the sharpest of all the Eagles' quarterbacks during their three-day minicamp in early June.

McKee dressed for all 18 Eagles games as the "emergency quarterback" in 2023, but the team never needed him to play. In 2024, he'll very likely be the emergency quarterback again, at a minimum, with a chance to compete with Pickett for the No. 2 job in training camp.

Will Grier

Grier was a Panthers third-round pick in 2019. He has since bounced around the league quite a bit.

• Panthers (2019-2020)
• Cowboys (2021-2022)
• Bengals (2023)
• Patriots (2023)
• Chargers (2023)
• Eagles (2024)

Grier played for Eagles offensive coordinator Kellen Moore for two years in Dallas, and for about a month in Los Angeles with the Chargers last season. He started two games for the Panthers as a rookie in 2019, and threw 0 TDs to 4 INTs. The Panthers lost both games. He has not appeared in a regular season game since.

Grier will help Moore install his offense, and could be a candidate to stick on the practice squad.

Follow Jimmy & PhillyVoice on Twitter: @JimmyKempski | thePhillyVoice

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports

Add Jimmy's RSS feed to your feed reader