2024 NFL Draft

How the Eagles were sold on a 3rd-round pick you've never heard of

The Eagles drafted Jalyx Hunt from Houston Christian on Friday. Who? From where? They explain.

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This was not a normal draft pick.

Jalyx Hunt comes from a school that didn’t have a football program until 2014 and changed its name two years ago. He’s an edge rusher that began his career as a safety. He transferred from an Ivy League school in upstate New York to a Bible college in downtown Houston. His name is a SCRABBLE player’s dream.

Hunt, the Eagles’ 3rd-round pick Friday, is an intriguing combination of eye-opening traits and risky projection. 

After starting his career at Cornell as a safety, he played in obscurity the last two years at Houston Christian in the Southland Conference – have you ever even heard of the Southland Conference? Be honest. But any thought that he’d be a small-school late-round pick or undrafted free agent was erased when scouts began seeing his athleticism on game tape, his ability against top offensive tackles at the Senior Bowl and his testing numbers at the Combine.

“He’s got freaky tools in his body,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said Friday night. “He's an explosive guy. If you watch his best plays, he's doing things that are unique. He can bend. He can close. He can finish. He's long. He's an extremely smart kid, obviously coming from Cornell. 

“You know, you can say, ‘Well, that's the third round and you're a good team, why are you doing that?’ Because these guys are hard to find. We believe in edge rushers and we just felt like there was a tremendous buy-in from our staff about this player. Obviously from the coaching staff, from the front office, we thought this guy had tremendous tools.”

Hunt looks the part at 6-foot-4, 250 pounds, and his Combine numbers get your attention: His broad jump of 10-8 was best of all edge rushers, he was fourth with a 37-5 vertical, he ran a 4.64, eighth-best, and his 10-yard split was 1.6 seconds, 6th-best.

So he’s got the tools. All he’s missing is experience playing against top competition.

“We feel like we’ve got a good edge rush group,” Roseman said. “He doesn't have to come in here (and play immediately). We're going to develop him, like we talk about.

“This is a perfect developmental guy for us because of the tools in his body and his character and work ethic, and we think we can really find something with him. That's on us. That's on how he's going to work.  When you get guys like that it's exciting to see what they can become.”

Hunt joins an edge rush room that starts with Josh Sweat and Bryce Huff and continues with Brandon Graham and Nolan Smith. But Graham is retiring after the 2024 season, Sweat isn’t signed beyond 2024 and Smith remains a giant question mark.

Still, the third round seems awfully early for a long-range project with raw tools but no big-time college experience.

Roseman said if the Eagles didn’t take him at No. 94 – where they arrived following two trade-downs – they would have lost him

“You think you get a guy from Houston Christian and nobody is going to know him,” Roseman said. “Everybody knew him. 

“I think this is one of the guys that you started to hear a lot of the buzz on him. It starts out, you kind of are going, ‘All right, maybe I can get this guy on the third day,’ and then you start seeing a bunch of mock drafts with his name in it in the second and third round and then you start seeing (NFL Network analyst and former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah’s) list (of best remaining picks) and stuff like that, and so then you realize there are no more secrets.”

In two years at Houston Christian – which was Houston Baptist until 2022 – Hunt had 13 ½ sacks and 20 ½ tackles for loss. He was one of only four FCS players invited to the Senior Bowl.

“For us, it was just like we didn't want to get cute,” Roseman said, “We want to develop the player. I think one of our scouts, after we picked him, said, ‘Man, where can this guy be in two years? What kind of pass rusher?’

“We believe he has an ability to be one of these small-school rushers that really can ascend, and we feel like we have the right coaches and the right support system.”

But it wasn’t until the Eagles flew Hunt into town, got him into the NovaCare Complex and edge rush coach Jeremiah Washburn worked him out that they were sold on Hunt, who turned 23 last month.

“We're able to get our hands on guys and work them out privately or bring them in here and see how they react to this atmosphere, how they react to coaching, especially the small-school guys,” Roseman said.

“It helps you complete the process better than otherwise. In this case we had an opportunity to do that and it made us feel better about the pick. Obviously there’s some excitement from this player from all levels of the organization.”

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