Jalen Hurd transferred from Tennessee to Baylor two years ago with a dream of making himself an NFL receiver.
Hurd will get his chance as the San Francisco 49ers picked him in the third round of the NFL draft Friday night with the 67th overall pick.
Most draft predictions pegged Hurd as a fourth or fifth-round pick, but the 49ers took the 6-4, 217-pound fifth-year senior earlier than expected.
After rushing for 2,660 yards and 20 touchdowns in three seasons at Tennessee, Hurd could have tested the draft waters in 2017. But Hurd felt his best chance to make the NFL was as a receiver, so he transferred to Baylor to learn how to play that position in Matt Rhule’s pro-style offense.
Hurd began learning Rhule’s system as a redshirt in 2017. The transfer year paid off as Hurd led the Bears with 69 catches for 946 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 while also still contributing in the backfield by rushing for 209 yards and three scores.
“I think I’ve shown I can be a receiver and do it very well,” said Hurd on Baylor’s Pro Day on April 2. “I showed I can be a pretty dominant and elite receiver. So I think I’ll be able to for sure do that at the next level. My biggest strength is my speed, my versatility and just being able to cut. I’m very big and I can move a lot better than most big people. I’m glad I have a year under my belt (at receiver).”
Hurd missed Baylor’s 45-38 win over Vanderbilt in the Texas Bowl and the Senior Bowl after undergoing minor knee surgery.
Hurd was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February before working out at Baylor’s Pro Day.
The NFL draft will be completed Saturday with rounds four through seven beginning at 11 a.m.