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Eagles' Jalen Hurts has become the latest in NFL's wave of rushing quarterbacks

Sporting News logo Sporting News 9/27/2021 Edward Sutelan

There was a time when the mentality was that being a quarterback who ran often meant that they were bound to be hurt.

The idea was generally to be concerned more with moving laterally, escaping pressure in the pocket while keeping the eyes downfield to at most scramble for a few yards or at least avoid a sack. But in today's game, that is much different. Cam Newton was the first to prove that his legs could be a legit weapon while he stayed on the field consistently, and quarterbacks like Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray have kept the line moving. 

Jalen Hurts looks to be the latest in that line of speedy QBs. He is off to a fast start, having rushed for 144 yards, the sixth-most rushing yards in the first two weeks of the season ever — Jackson holds the current record, which he set this year with 193, according to Stathead.

Is Hurts poised to give the Eagles that dangerous dual-threat quarterback that has helped lead other teams to success? Let's dive in. 

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How fast is Jalen Hurts?

Hurts isn't quite running at Jackson's speed, but he's moving pretty fast out there. 

Among quarterbacks that have played in the NFL, Hurts' 40-yard dash time at the 2020 NFL Combine of 4.59 seconds has him tied for 23rd fastest since 2000. He was clocked at the same speed as former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and just 0.03 behind Newton, according to Stathead.

By comparison, Jackson's time of 4.34 in the 40-yard dash — posted at a Speed Day at Louisville instead of the combine — has him behind only Robert Griffin III and Michael Vick at 4.33 among combine results since 2000, according to Stathead.

Hurts has been clocked moving at some fast speeds during games as well. He reached 20.11 mph in Week 1 on a 12-yard rush that was the 17th-fastest time in the league that week, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. He twice appeared on the top 20 in 2020, reaching 20.48 mph in Week 14 on a 5-yard rush and reaching 19.92 mph in Week 16 on a 20-yard rush.

The fastest time recorded by a quarterback in a game since 2016 was Marcus Mariota in Week 6 of the 2016 season when he reached 21.5 mph on a 41-yard carry.

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Jalen Hurts' rushing stats

So far this year, Hurts has already taken 17 carries 144 yards with a touchdown. His average of 8.47 yards per carry is the best among all quarterbacks that have attempted at least 10 carries this season.

It shouldn't be surprising to anyone to see Hurts ranking highly among the most effective rushing quarterbacks in the league. In his first taste of NFL action in 2020, he carried the ball 63 times in 15 games for 354 yards and scored three times on the ground.

This has been a continuation from his college days, where he routinely tore apart defenses with his legs. In his first three years at Alabama, he rushed 381 times for 1,976 yards and scored 23 times on the ground.

When he transferred and started for Oklahoma, he was turned loose as he took 233 carries for 1,298 yards with 20 touchdowns, all career-bests. 

Rushing quarterbacks in the NFL

The league has reached a phase where rushing quarterbacks are weapons, not potential injury risks.

Last season, eight different quarterbacks tallied at least 400 rushing yards, beating the previous mark of six set by the 2000 and 2013 campaigns, according to Stathead. In fact, since 2011, every season except one has had at least three quarterbacks record 400 rushing yards in a season. Prior to that, only the 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002 seasons had reached at least three.

And it's not even that all of these are particularly fast quarterbacks. Take a look at the eight quarterbacks with their rushing yards and 40-yard dash times. All the times are from Stathead, unless otherwise noted.

Player Team Yards 40-yard Time
Lamar Jackson Ravens 1,005 4.34*
Kyler Murray Cardinals 819 4.38*
Cam Newton Patriots 592 4.56
Russell Wilson Seahawks 513 4.53
Taysom Hill Saints 457 4.46*
Deshaun Watson Texans 444 4.66
Daniel Jones Giants 423 4.81
Josh Allen Bills 421 4.75

Murray and Jackson are legit fast players. Hill, Newton and Wilson move around the speed of a linebacker. Watson is pretty quick, but nothing too crazy. Allen and Jones aren't racing down the field by any means — for reference, Ben Roethlisberger was timed at a 4.75 40-time at the combine.

It's not entirely that the quarterbacks are faster, but they are being used more to run. Between 1970 and 2011, the NFL averaged only 3.8 quarterbacks per season that carried the ball at least 50 times. Since 2011, that average is up to 10.1.

Hurts seems poised to be the next quarterback to make an impact in this growing wave of dual-threat quarterbacks. He might not be the fastest QB in the league, but he's proven he's a dangerous ball-carrier any time he gets a chance to run, and clearly Nick Sirianni has shown he's willing to turn Hurts loose, if the early season numbers are an indication of what's to come.


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