FARGO — The Philadelphia Eagles raised some eyebrows Sunday when head coach Doug Pederson pulled starting quarterback Jalen Hurts at halftime in what many thought was an attempt to lose the game and improve the team's NFL Draft position.
Backup Nate Sudfeld played in the second half, completing 5 of 12 passes for 32 yards with one interception, in Philadelphia's 20-14 loss to Washington.
One NFL analyst thinks Philadelphia is positioning itself to draft a quarterback, even though the team used a second-round pick on Hurts last season and also have former North Dakota State star Carson Wentz, who recently signed a massive contract extension. Wentz has reportedly asked to be traded if he is no longer the Eagles' starter.
The Eagles are set to pick No. 6 overall in the upcoming draft.
"What that says to me, doing all that to move up from nine to six, the Eagles are going to draft a quarterback in the top 10 this upcoming draft," said Mike Renner, the lead NFL Draft analyst for Pro Football Focus. "You don't move up from nine to six because you want another offensive lineman. You don't do that because you want a wide receiver. You do it because that positions you better to either trade up or sit there at six and get involved in this quarterback class."
Renner predicts former Bison quarterback Trey Lance is who the Eagles could target. Coincidentally, the Eagles took Wentz No. 2 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz is coming off his worst statistical season since his rookie year.
"If they are going to draft one, to me, the best fit is Trey Lance," Renner said. "You have a guy in Jalen Hurts there that's a runner already that can use his legs, that, that running aspect is going to be a big part of your playbook in 2021. Trey Lance has that and then some, as well as a big arm.
"You don't have to change out playbooks from one to the other. They are interchangeable in that regard."
Now that the regular season has ended, the top of the NFL Draft board has been set and Lance is being projected to be selected in the top half of the first round by many analysts.
In his latest mock draft, The Athletic's Dane Brugler has Lance going to the Carolina Panthers at No. 9 overall. The Panthers have starter Teddy Bridgewater under contract for next season.
"Lance is an unprecedented evaluation because of his meager experience with all 17 of his collegiate starts coming vs. FCS opponents," Brugler recently wrote. "But his talent is too enticing for him to fall too far and his teammates call him the hardest worker in the program, something that will certainly appeal to (Panthers head coach) Matt Rhule. With Teddy Bridgewater under contract for at least one more season, the Panthers are in a situation to draft a young quarterback like Lance, who can sit and develop at his own pace."
Kyle Yates, a co-host for the FantasyPros Football podcast, has the 6-foot-4, 226-pound Lance projected as a top-five draft prospect. Lance played one game this past fall due the coronavirus pandemic that moved most of NDSU's games to the spring.
Lance completed 15 of 30 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns with one interception in a 39-28 victory against Central Arkansas on Oct. 3 in the Fargodome. Lance went 17-0 as a starter with the Bison and threw only one interception during his career.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is projected by most to be selected No. 1 overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ohio State's Justin Fields and Brigham Young's Zach Wilson are also expected to be taken in the top 10.
ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay has Lance rated as the No. 22 overall prospect in his latest rankings. McShay has Lance rated at his fourth-best QB prospect behind Lawrence (No. 1 overall), Wilson (No. 8 overall) and Fields (No. 9 overall).
The Minnesota Vikings are slotted to select No. 14 overall in the upcoming draft and could look to take a quarterback at that position to develop behind starter Kirk Cousins. The Viking are coming off a 7-9 season. Lance could be available in that range if the Vikings decide to select a quarterback.