April 30, 2024   6 MIN READ

Rare Bird

Jalyx Hunt's Unique Rise To 3rd-Round Pick


As the third round of the NFL Draft continued Friday evening, an updated big board graphic of NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah’s top prospects remaining would frequently appear on the screen.

Coming in at No. 64 was Houston Christian edge rusher Jalyx Hunt, presumably prompting a subset of viewers to flock to the internet for the comprehensive backstory.

The graphic also called more attention to the small-school prospect, which made Eagles personnel chief Howie Roseman understandably apprehensive with 30 picks still remaining before the Eagles’ 94th pick.

“Every time DJ’s best available came on I got a little worried, my guy over there,” Roseman said Friday evening, recalling the attention given from Jeremiah, who once worked in the Eagles’ front office.

“You think you get a guy from Houston Christian and nobody is going to know. Goes to the point. Everybody knew him. He was at the Senior Bowl.”

Jalyx Hunt

GETTY IMAGES: Eagles third-round pick Jalyx Hunt’s emergence into an NFL prospect is unlike most of his counterparts.

Roseman might have braced himself with every pick ahead of the Eagles after twice trading back in the third round, but the shrewd executive vice president of football operations would ultimately get his guy for the Eagles.

“What up, big pimpin’?” Hunt charismatically responded on the other line of Roseman’s call before requesting a playbook ASAP, exhibiting the same eagerness he did throughout his collegiate career.

The pick, predictably, was met with skepticism, as Hunt hardly qualified as a household name.

Instead of showcasing against some of the elite of college football, Hunt’s highlights were compiled against school such as Lamar University and Texas A&M Commerce.

Surely, the Houston Christian addition was never going to move the needle enough to satisfy the preponderance of an impassioned fanbase.

Although unknown by most of the public, Hunt was was highly regarded in NFL circles, garnering invites to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. He visited the Eagles on a 30-visit April 12.

More than merely proving he belonged, Hunt logged a productive week at the Senior Bowl, where he acquitted himself well against premier competition, matching what he put on film.

He doubled down by showcasing his tantalizing athletic traits at the Combine.

“He proved that at the Senior Bowl,” said Campbell University head football coach Braxton Harris, his coach at Houston Christian. “He played against really good people at the Senior Bowl, and he still continued to play at the level that his film’s on.

“Obviously, those questions are gonna be out there – and it’s a question mark for anybody who doesn’t play Power 5 football – but the thing I would say is all the other things that Jalyx has done in proving himself in those spots.

“Just give him the opportunity to show what he could do. I don’t think anybody in Philadelphia will be sad that they picked Jalyx Hunt.”

The moment that Hunt, a former safety at Cornell, walked through the doors at Houston Christian and met his head coach, the special qualities were evident.

Impressive athleticism and measurables aside, it was Hunt’s relentless pursuit of knowledge that was most perceptible.

Guys like Hunt, as Harris noted, don’t grow on trees.

“He wants to learn,” Harris said. “We came in and showed him a different way to do things, and he was in my office all the time being able to say, ‘What are we looking for?’

“Let’s turn on the film, what are we not seeing? What are we getting done? How can I get better?’ We had some really good coaches there that have done a good job developing him, and he invested in that piece. But the biggest thing I would say off the field-wise is his ability to stay focused.”

Jalyx Hunt

GETTY IMAGES: Jalyx Hunt showed that he can play against top-flight competition at the Senior Bowl.

This drive and focus, Harris said, quickly turned Hunt from a blank-canvas prospect and oversized safety into a turbo-charged, tools-laden developmental pass-rusher.

“I mean, this guy was at a small college last year that was trying to turn the program around, and we had NFL teams in our building every, single day at practice. And he never had a bad practice, he always stayed focused.

“He always handled his business. You would have never known if there were 20 people there or there were three people there. He handled himself the same.

“That’s just not normal. That’s pretty hard to do in those spots. And Jalyx did a fantastic job handling himself in those spots, and I think that just speaks to who he is as much as what he does on the football field.”

An explosive, twitched-up pass-rusher with tremendous burst and change of direction, Hunt stormed onto the scene in 2022, collecting seven sacks, 13 quarterback hits and 11.5 tackles for loss. He  produced another 6.5 sacks the following season, placing him squarely on NFL radars.

Widely viewed as a developmental prospect, Hunt has the luxury of learning behind Brandon Graham, Bryce Huff, Josh Sweat and Nolan Smith to refine his pass-rush arsenal and develop his play strength.

Coming in with the stamp of approval of new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Hunt provides a skill set that should be particularly appealing in terms of playing in space and dropping into coverage, a hallmark of Fangio’s defense.

The term “red-shirting” probably won’t apply to Hunt, who provides enough juice and length off the edge that the Eagles should find useful situationally once he acclimates.

There’s also other ways Hunt can impact the game.

“He can play on special teams,” Harris said. “He can cover kicks, he can be on kickoff return, he can be on punt return. He was our best guy on punt. I broke down our punt cut-ups from last year, and here he is, Jalyx Hunt, making the tackle, making the tackle, making the tackle. I think he’s got experience in that, he sees the value in that piece.”

Harris understands why Hunt is viewed as a project from an unknown school that played inferior competition compared to prospects drafted from Power 5 schools, but Harris also sees some benefit there.

“His biggest attribute, I would say, is his blank slate,” Harris said. “His ability to be able to grow. He hasn’t reached his max. He’s only been playing his position for two years.

“I mean, think about that. The game is way different from a safety position than at outside linebacker. It looks different, it feels different, it happens different. And he’s only been doing it two years. Give him another two years, and I think you guys are really gonna like what you’ve got in him.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

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