Jalen Hurd Fantasy
Jalen Hurd is the most dynamic player not being talked about in this year’s NFL Draft. Hurd was gaining first-round NFL Draft hype as a running back at the University of Tennessee going into the 2016 season. As a freshman and sophomore in Knoxville, Hurd had rushed for 2,184 yards on 467 carries (4.6 yards/carry) and totaled 17 rushing touchdowns. In those seasons he also caught 57 receptions for 411 yards (7.2 yards/reception) and four touchdowns. Hurd then chose to make an odd move; he requested to switch positions to play wide receiver for the Vols in an attempt to have a longer and more lucrative career in the NFL. Once his request was denied, he transferred from Tennessee to Baylor; who offered him the ability to play receiver.
After sitting out the 2017 season, Hurd caught 69 passes for 946 yards and 4 touchdowns while helping Baylor reach a bowl game. He still took snaps at running back, which should pique the interest of savvy fantasy football players, and racked up 209 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 48 carries. Hurd is a raw wide receiver prospect but he has shown the ability to translate to the position and his dynamic skillset could make him one of the most unique fantasy football assets we have seen in a while.
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 226 lbs
- Age: 23
Red Hot Red Zone Threat
Hurd proved to be a red zone threat while at Baylor, both through the passing and rushing attack. 17% of his touches came from inside the red zone. Hurd ran for three touchdowns for the Bears, and all three were red zone scores against some of his tougher Big 12 competition-Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Texas.
Additionally, he caught two touchdowns in the red zone. In total, Hurd found the endzone on 20% of his red zone touches. Having a potential touchdown machine on your fantasy football roster is extremely appealing, but Hurd takes it to the next level with his proven ability to score as both a receiver and a rusher.
NFL Combine Recap
- Wingspan: 77 5/8″
- Arm Length: 32″
- Hand Size: 10 1/4″
- Bench Press: 23 reps
It was disappointing to see Hurd not participate fully in testing at the NFL Combine. Hurd chose to only participate in the bench press following a minor knee procedure; he is expected to run at his pro day. Hurd’s measurements, though, are impressive enough to take note of. His height puts him in the 95th percentile for wide receivers. His weight puts him in the 94th percentile. His hand size is in the 93rd percentile. Hurd isn’t just big; he is strong: his 23 bench press reps places him in the 96th percentile for the position. I believe that if Hurd had fully participated his draft stock would have soared, but we can look to his pro day for confirmation of that.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Hurd’s greatest strength is his athleticism. He lined up all over the field for Baylor, including outside, in tight, in the slot, and as a running back. He covers a lot of the field and can make plays at any level. Hurd is comfortable in contested catch situations. Hurd’s Baylor tape shows multiple instances of him out jumping defenders to bring in contested catches. Hurd is very aware of his large frame and uses it well to put himself in a position of success along the sideline and over the middle of the field.
Hurd comes off very quick on film which makes him missing the NFL Combine even more disappointing. Hurd can burn along the sideline; Baylor often targeted him on screens at the line of scrimmage and allowed him to burst up the sideline. He also has short and quick movements that allow him to be dangerous in space and overwhelm defensive backs trying to play press coverage on him. Hurd’s experience as a running back shines through when he is operating with the ball in his hands after the catch. He has fantastic vision, makes defenders miss consistently, and fights for extra yardage through the end of plays.
Hurd, though, is very raw as a receiver. He has an underdeveloped route tree; which isn’t surprising for someone with just one year at the position. Hurd’s most effective route is the drag; he works the short field very well and racks up yards after the catch consistently. He also can run effective comeback routes; he uses convincing footwork to sell defenders and create large gaps of space to pull in catches. Hurd was also targeted a lot, as I mentioned before, off screens at the line of scrimmage. Beyond that, it is rare to see anything outside of simple post routes. Hurd’s lack of route running diversity limits his versatility in the NFL. He has fantastic footwork when running routes; it is crisp, leads to clean cuts, and often creates enough separation to make a play. He fails to consistently use his hands to create space, though; it is a skill he may not have needed playing against Big 12 defenders but it will be one he needs working out of the slot in the NFL.
Best Fit: West Coast Offense
The west coast offense relies heavily on short passing to open up the field for big plays. Hurd’s effectiveness as a pass catcher has thus far been limited to the first 5-15 yards off the line of scrimmage. I believe Hurd best fits in the slot; making him a match-up nightmare for slot corners and linebackers. If utilized in a west coast offense, Hurd’s underneath routes could draw defenders into the box and allow his teammates to make plays downfield.
Dynasty Factor: High Upside, Low Price
Jalen Hurd’s potential to impact your dynasty roster is great. He is the type of unique gadget player that can provide you fantasy football points in a variety of categories if he falls in the right offense. Hurd, though, will need time to develop into a legitimate fantasy football threat; you may have to stash him on your bench or taxi squad for a year or two before he really breaks out. He needs to refine his route running and handwork to compete at a high level in the NFL. His dynamic playmaking and proven scoring record, though, may be enough for a creative coach to make the investment in Hurd.
Hurd’s landing spot could boost his fantasy football value significantly. Hurd’s position switch and missing both the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine have kept his draft stock capped; putting him in a position currently to go late day 2 or early day 3 of the NFL Draft. The New England Patriots (98th and 102nd overall picks) would be a great landing spot for Hurd. The Patriots are known for having an extremely creative playbook that they tailor well to their weapons. New England could see Hurd as a dynamic replacement for Cordarelle Patterson, who they lost to free agency. Patterson not only played out of the slot, but he also took snaps as a running back during the 2018 season.
The Oakland Raiders (107th overall pick) utilize west coast offense concepts in Jon Gruden’s play calling. They paid up for both Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams in free agency. As a result, they may forgo on spending high draft capital to fill their need in the slot. Instead, they could look to Hurd; who would benefit from being in a newly renovated offense; learning from one of the NFL’s best wide receivers. If he Hurd slips to Chicago in the 4th round (127th overall) he would find himself in the hands of one of the most creative play callers in the NFL. Matt Nagy could absolutely utilize Hurd’s ability to line up anywhere on the field and Hurd would fit right into their eclectic wide receiver corps. Hurd could take over, in time, the slot from Taylor Gabriel-who the Bears can opt out from after the 2019 season.
Hurd is not the safest bet you can make in your fantasy football drafts. He does, however, provide you with great upside. I have consistently seen him going in the 3rd or later rounds of fantasy football rookie drafts. At that point in your drafts, you are essentially throwing darts and filling taxi squad spots anyways-why not throw a dynamic, electric, and high upside dart?
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