Eagles top 25

Big shoes to fill: Cam Jurgens on most important list

Cam Jurgens takes his spot on the list of most important Eagles of 2024.

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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 2024 season.

25. Brandon Graham
24. Nakobe Dean
23. Milton Williams
22. Jake Elliott
21. Nolan Smith
20. Cooper DeJean
19. Reed Blankenship
18. Tyler Steen
17. Devin White
16. Quinyon Mitchell
15. Jordan Davis
14. Landon Dickerson
13. C.J. Gardner-Johnson
12. Dallas Goedert
11. Josh Sweat
10. Bryce Huff
9. Cam Jurgens

Cam Jurgens knew from the moment the Eagles drafted that it would be his job to eventually replace Jason Kelce and now that day is finally here.

Kelce retired this offseason after a Hall of Fame career and Jurgens will take over for him as the Eagles’ center. 

Big shoes to fill.

“At the end of the day, just be myself,” Jurgens said this spring. “I’m not trying to be somebody’s replacement or somebody’s next person. I’m just trying to be myself. I’m trying to be the best football player I can be and whatever position they put me that’s what I’m going to do.

“I’m not worried about anything else but what I can control and I think that’s all I got to worry about at the end of the day. I think when you start putting it into those perspectives and terms and people like to compare, you just put different things on your shoulders that you need to carry. And, really, what can I do today? What can I do to learn? What can I do to get better and how can I be the best football player I can be? And not how can I be what he was? What are we going to do tomorrow? That’s how I gotta look at it.”

Since Kelce had flirted so openly about retirement in recent years, his decision to walk away from the game after the 2023 season wasn’t much of a shock. Heck, the reason the Eagles used a second-round pick on Jurgens in the 2022 draft was to find Kelce’s replacement and the Eagles even sought out Kelce’s opinion on prospects. Kelce, by the way, gave Jurgens’ tape a ringing endorsement.

In 2022, Jurgens basically had a redshirt season as the No. 51 overall pick out of Nebraska, learning behind Kelce as the Eagles’ backup center. But when the right guard job became available in 2023, the Eagles moved him to that spot. And even though Jurgens’ more natural position is clearly center, he held his own at right guard.

“Cam Jurgens was brought here two years ago for the reason of when Kelce does retire that we have a guy that we really identified as being a top-level center, in our opinion,” Eagles longtime OL coach Jeff Stoutland said this spring. “When you look at those things, many of you guys have heard me talk about critical factors. Each position has a list of these factors. And for me, that’s everything. I’m not deviating from that. I’ve done this 40-something years now. All the good players I’ve ever coached have the same things. And I’m like, why don’t you just build a list of these factors and then go by that in terms of how you’re evaluating players. 

“Cam just so happened to check a lot of the boxes of foot and body quickness, he’s powerful, has got great core strength, he’s got the ability to communicate to the corps. When we moved him to guard, and a lot of you guys asked me about this last year, I wasn’t sure if he would be able to. Because we weren’t evaluating him for that spot. I was real impressed with the job that he did there, to be honest with you. His physicality and all that. So it’s perfect timing for him.”

But it wouldn't be fair to really take too much from his 11 starts at right guard in 2023 because the Eagles didn’t draft Jurgens to play guard. They drafted him to play center. And from an athletic standpoint, Jurgens has an awful lot in common with Kelce.

Jurgens is athletic and smart but he just doesn’t have over a decade in the NFL. The nuances of the game that Kelce learned and weaponized really made him stand out during the latter portion of his career.

The good news is that Jurgens did get some time on the field with Kelce last season. And Stoutland thinks that’s going to help.

“I know one of you wants to ask, ‘Hey, how did that help him, playing next to Kelce?’ That’s the question!” Stoutland exclaimed. “How great that was for him to actually be on the field, playing in games and hearing what Kelce’s saying, how he’s saying it, to be right there next to him? I think that was tremendous help.”

And if Jurgens has any questions, Kelce is still around. He’s been at the NovaCare Complex plenty since retirement and is always willing to offer advice or answer questions.

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