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Mel Kiper Jr.: Jalen Hurts Will Not Be a First-Round Pick in the NFL Draft

As one of the foremost draft experts in media, when Mel Kiper Jr. speaks, we all tend to listen. That is why you find yourself here, wanting to hear his explanation of why Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts will not be selected anywhere near the first round come April 2020.

Kiper not only said Hurts wouldn't be a first-rounder, he's projecting him to land somewhere in the fourth or fifth-round as an unfinished quarterback who will need a lot of work to become NFL-ready. He cites Lincoln Riley, QB whisperer, as the central reason for Hurts' success, although Kiper noted Hurts has made significant strides over the last few years as a whole.

This is obviously quite interesting because Hurts is at or near the top of the Heisman leaderboard, depending on who you ask. He has 2,469 yards through the air with 21 touchdowns and merely three interceptions, along with 801 yards on the ground and an additional 13 touchdowns. All in all, he's accounted for 3,270 yards of offense and 34 touchdowns. Yes, Riley is a better offensive playcaller than most NFL coordinators, much less the people in charge at, say, West Virginia. Hurts has a tendency to fumble and didn't look the part of a potential Heisman candidate when Oklahoma suffered their only loss thus far to Kansas State.

But Hurts has generally made the big throws when they need him to, and has showed a solid combination of accuracy and arm strength to go along with his above-average size and athleticism for a quarterback. He's closer to Cam Newton than Lamar Jackson as a runner (not to say he's as good as either of those guys are), and just the threat of a running quarterback on read-pass option plays opens up many options for an offense.

Kiper obviously knows better than us, and while Hurts has adequate physical tools, they aren't other-worldly, and playing in Riley's system will be a point against. But if Hurts continues to play the way he has, I'd be surprised if he fell out of the second. At a certain point, the numbers speak for themselves.