Eagles analysis

Jurgens on most important list after redshirt rookie season

Cam Jurgens didn't play much as a rookie in 2022 but he's super important for the Eagles in 2023

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Over the next few weeks leading up to training camp, we’ll be counting down the top 25 most important Eagles for the 2023 season.

25. Nolan Smith
24. Quez Watkins
23. Kenny Gainwell
22. Marcus Mariota
21. Reed Blankenship
20. Brandon Graham
19. D'Andre Swift
18. Avonte Maddox
17. Cam Jurgens

The Eagles used the No. 51 overall pick on Cam Jurgens last year but it basically became a redshirt season for the offensive lineman from Nebraska.

Don’t expect another one.

Because after the departure of Isaac Seumalo in free agency this offseason, Jurgens is the lead candidate to replace him at right guard. As long as Jurgens can hold off Tyler Steen, Jack Driscoll and Sua Opeta, expect him to start at right guard this season between Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson.

The Eagles drafted Jurgens last year to be Kelce’s eventually replacement at center and that’s still the plan. But Kelce decided to return for the 2023 season and if Jurgens has the ability to play guard, why not let him?

Of course, Jurgens hasn’t played guard before. He converted from tight end to center at Nebraska and got just a handful of reps at guard in walkthrough last year. But when OTAs began, Jurgens was getting first-team reps at right guard.

Even if Jurgens is able to put on some weight to get to 310-315 pounds, he isn’t going to be a prototypical body type as a guard. And he’s OK with that.

“I’m not quite the 350-pound Landon (Dickerson),” Jurgens said this spring, “so I handle things differently.”

Basically, Jurgens wants to play guard the same way he plays center. Let his athleticism take over.

“I think we’re still playing the game of football, hitting people,” he explained. “So just trying to go to my strengths. I want to be an athlete in any spot I am. I don’t want to fit a pizza cutter mold of whatever a right guard is supposed to be. I just want to be out there and be a good O-lineman.”

The Eagles were actually planning on beginning Jurgens’ cross-training at guard during training camp last year but then Kelce needed a minor elbow surgery, which pushed Jurgens up the depth chart at center. While those first-team reps at center were valuable, it did put him a bit behind learning guard. And then Kelce stayed healthy during the regular season so Jurgens played just 35 offensive snaps total as a rookie.

The good news according to Jurgens? The switch from center to guard is a lot easier than the switch from tight end to center he went through in college.

And what Jurgens might lack in pure size, he makes up with other attributes.

“He’s so damn strong,” Johnson said. “I think he front-squatted like 550 the other day. Just having a guy that strong. The thing about him being 6-3 or whatever, I feel like he has natural leverage on some of the defenders, low center of gravity. He’s able to get under guys and obviously has that power. The more reps that he gets, the better he’s going to be. As far as explosion and athletic traits, he’s unbelievable.”

There’s still obviously a ton of projection with moving Jurgens to guard and there might be some growing pains. The nice thing for the Eagles is that the rest of their line — Jordan Mailata, Dickerson, Kelce and Johnson — is already really good.

As long as Jurgens can be average, the Eagles line should still be one of the best in the NFL. But we’ll get a better sense of his ability at the position once training camp begins.

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