On Friday night, presumed first round pick and Butkus Award winner Nakobe Dean seemingly fell into the Eagles lap at pick 51, but Howie Roseman and the Eagles decided to pass on the stud linebacker (for now) to draft their center of the future in Cam Jurgens. Many fans questioned the Jurgens selection, especially with Dean still being on the board, but it came as no surprise to people around the NFL that the Eagles wanted to get their center of the future in the building before Kelce hangs things up.
What he Brings to the Field
When you look at Jurgens, the first thing that that catches your eye is the explosiveness and ferocity that he brings to the field. Jurgens is constantly getting to the second and third level on run blocking plays, and he loves to put players on their backs. Does this sound reminiscent of a certain Eagles lineman? Jurgens has all the physical tools you want from a center, and his intangibles and play style are perfect for Nick Sirianni's unique offense, but we'll get into that a bit later. The former Cornhusker was a converted tight end, and he has only played center for three seasons. Jurgens took the transition from tight end to center extremely well, as he has played 2,066 snaps at center over his first three seasons, only allowing 1 sack on 1,016 pass blocking snaps. Scouts love the raw potential Jurgens possesses matched with his effort, football IQ, and his love for the game.
Credit: Eagles Wire - USA Today
What the Future Holds
With Kelce returning to Philly on a $12 million dollar deal, Jurgens was taken to learn under Kelce and be his eventually successor once he evidently chooses to hang it up and put an end to his unbelievable Hall of Fame career. Similar to the Landon Dickerson selection last year, Jurgens has the potential to play both center and guard. Dickerson played all around the offensive line in his time at Alabama and Florida State, but Jurgens has played his entire career at center and is built to play the position. In Philadelphia, Howie Roseman values the center position as much as anybody in the league, and we have been lucky enough to have had the four-time First Team All-Pro Jason Kelce over the last 11 years. But the 34-year-old center has been contemplating retirement over each of the last several years and could step away at any time. With the Jurgens selection, Roseman and Sirianni have gotten who they believe to be the future at center, allowing him to essentially take a red-shirt year and learn behind Kelce and develop under the best offensive lineman coach in the NFL. Both Jason Kelce and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland gave the Jurgen selection the seal of approval, and Kelce went as far as saying that Jurgen was his favorite player in the draft.
Jurgen's Role in Philadelphia
Jurgens biggest strength is most definitely his lateral mobility, speed, and explosiveness. When you turn on the tape, Jurgens pops off the screen because he is constantly putting linebackers and defensive backs on the ground, and he loves to get out and block 40 yards downfield. Jurgens also has really good power at the point of attack, and he has a low center of gravity, but his hand placement on the initial block often gets him into trouble against stronger and quicker interior defenders. In tight spaces, Jurgens did not approach blocks with the right angles and looked extremely raw at time. When Jurgens got into open space he looks like a totally different player, and many scouts believe he is the best center in the open field. Another thing to like about Jurgens is that he has quick hands, but his smaller wingspan often limits what he can do with his hands.
Good news for Eagles fans; Cam Jurgens best profiles as somebody that would succeed in a heavy zone rushing offense with a lot of play action and screens. This is music to the ears of Eagles fans because Philadelphia's offense under Nick Sirianni is a heavy zone rushing offense that led the NFL in both rushing yards and play action plays in 2021, and Sirianni is also notorious for using the screen game to get receivers and backs into space. Sirianni also loves using his center in the pull game as a lead blocker, which is perhaps where Jurgens succeeds the most.
Jurgens will not be rushed into the thick of things in Philly, giving him time to adapt to the playbook, fine-toon his skills, and learn under the best center and offensive line coach in football. Whenever Kelce eventually decides to step away from football, Jurgens will be ready to step right in next to Jordan Mailata and Landon Dickerson, and this Eagles offense should not lose a beat.
This may have been a disappointment for many since the Eagles had obvious needs on the back end of the defense, but you can't approach the draft with the mindset that your only goal is to fill holes. Teams need to approach the draft with the mindset that they have to get the best available prospects that fit their team’s identity and system, and it's an extreme understatement to say Jurgens is exactly that.
Cam Jurgens might be raw, but we have to remember that he has only played along the offensive line for three years now, and he is already one of the top two center prospects in this year’s class. With a red-shirt year under Jurgens belt where he learns and absorbs everything he can from the Jason Kelce and he also works with his technique and develops under Jeff Stoutland, Jurgens has the potential to be a very good player for a very long time in Philadelphia.