What They’re Saying: Is Brett Hundley Underrated?

Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports

Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports

Here is a rundown of what the national media are saying about the Eagles.

Matt Waldman of Football Outsiders wonders if Brett Hundley would have as high a draft stock as Marcus Mariota if he played in the Oregon offense:

Thanks in part to the Ducks’ offense, I have also seen far fewer successful throws with tight-window accuracy from Mariota than I have with Hundley. Considering how well Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez performed in this style of scheme in Philadelphia, it poses a sensible question: does the offense inflate the perceived talent of a quarterback?

The opposite proposition might be that Mark Sanchez was better than we saw in New York on a Rex Ryan-coached team that didn’t develop a strong offensive system after Sanchez had a solid beginning to his career. Likewise, Jim Mora — like Ryan — is a defensive-oriented coach with a similar history of uninspired offensive football. Perhaps Brett Hundley’s potential has been limited by the Bruins’ offense, and could blossom in a more imaginative environment?

I’m still pondering these questions, because there are moments where Hundley is the most impressive passer of his 2015 group.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports believes that Hundley has already made a strong impression on the scouts at the combine and will only continue to impress:

Not surprisingly, Mariota drew the largest crowd but Hundley made the strongest first impression, measuring in bigger than expected and showing his ease in the spotlight during his interview with national media. Hundley officially measured in at 6-3 and 226 pounds, with the biggest hands (10½ inches) of any of this year’s quarterbacks.

As NFLDraftScout.com has been reporting since January, Hundley will be performing all of the drills at the combine, explaining that “we live for moments like this” and welcoming the challenge of competing against [Jameis] Winston, Mariota and the rest of a quarterback class that he thought was being unfairly characterized as mediocre.

Rather than fall back on the tired excuse of a lack of familiarity with receivers at the combine, Hundley recognized the opportunity to throw to the best receivers in the 2015 draft.

“Every receiver here has done great at his independent college and, you know, it’ll be my honor to throw to them,” Hundley said. “I’m going to have fun doing it. I’m going to get out and throw the rock a little bit.”

Hundley won’t be able to silence critics of his poise in the pocket during a workout, but he may very well prove the most athletic of this year’s quarterbacks and his smooth throwing motion and accuracy on the deep ball could help him stand out during the throwing session as well.

Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com thinks the Jets have no option but to take Mariota, should he fall to them at number 6:

Let’s make it easy for New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan: If Marcus Mariota is available with the sixth pick, take him. There’s no need to overthink this. The Jets are desperate for a quarterback, and Mariota is a top quarterback prospect. Simple.

Don’t look a gift Duck in the mouth.

“If he falls to the Jets, I’d be sending the card up to the commissioner in two seconds,” said ESPN analyst Mark Dominik, former general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There is a lot of chatter here at the NFL scouting combine about Mariota’s background with Oregon’s up-tempo spread offense and whether that will somehow prevent him from thriving in a pro-style system. Obviously, it’s not an ideal situation. But guess what? Neither is the Jets’ current quarterback depth chart. In case you haven’t noticed, Geno Smith isn’t the long-term answer. If they pass on Mariota, they could be staring into the quarterback abyss for another few years.

FoxSports.com ranked the top-30 free agents and has Jeremy Maclin listed at number four:

 Kudos to Maclin for risking life and limb (professionally speaking, of course) and holding off all contract talks until after the 2014 campaign. As a result, he’s now dealing in a position of power with the Eagles — or whomever signs the Missouri product. Maclin has racked up double-digit TDs twice in his career. On the down side, Maclin didn’t record more than six receiving targets throughout last December (four games) — a time when Philly folded down the stretch (1-3). Unlike Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant, Maclin isn’t a lock to be franchised by the Eagles.

Phil Sheridan of ESPN.com believes the Eagles need to address their secondary needs in free agency, not the draft:

Seattle general manager John Schneider, speaking at the scouting combine Thursday, said the Seahawks would like to re-sign cornerback Byron Maxwell. But Schneider also said he knows there will be a strong market for the soon-to-be free agent.

The Eagles should be in that market. But there are several other interesting players who are due to be free agents: the Houston Texans’ Kareem Jackson, San Diego’s Brandon Flowers, and San Francisco’s Chris Cook and Perrish Cox are all young enough and experienced enough to attract the Eagles’ interest.

Safety — the position that has frustrated the Eagles since the departure of Brian Dawkins six years ago — is tougher. New England’s Devin McCourty is probably the top safety available. Others include the Cleveland Browns’ Tashaun Gipson, the Baltimore Ravens’ Will Hill and the Buffalo Bills’ Da’Norris Searcy.

The Eagles can still certainly look to add long-term help through the draft. Cornerbacks such as Marcus Peters of Washington, Trae Waynes of Michigan State and LSU’s Jalen Collins could be there when the Eagles’ pick comes up. So could Alabama safety Landon Collins. All of them are worth considering.

But recent history shows that it might be expecting too much for a rookie defensive back to play at a high level right away. Because coach Chip Kelly is all about winning right away, that might make free agency his better option.