Jeff McLane 🤷🏻♂️
Drafting a center in the second round came as a surprise to many who follow the Eagles. Yes, they have prioritized both lines and given additional weight to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland’s voice during the draft process. Yes, getting Jason Kelce’s seal of approval and the idea of having his eventual replacement in the building to learn under his mentorship for a year likely influenced the decision to take Cam Jurgens.
But did it make strategic sense considering positional value, the Eagles’ other needs and the other prospects on the board when the team drafted Jurgens at No. 51? Probably not. That’s doesn’t mean the 6-foot-3, 303-pound center won’t develop into a top-tier talent or at the least a starter. He was projected to go in the second or third round. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had him ranked as his No. 58 overall prospect. He’s a former tight end who transitioned to center and utilized his athleticism to offset what he lacked in experience.
He’s got Kelce-like traits, and Stoutland typically knows them when he sees them. There were a number of possibilities for the Eagles at No. 51. Defensive end David Ojabo, cornerbacks Andrew Booth, and Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker went early on Day 2. Wide receiver George Pickens, cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, defensive end Drake Jackson, and safety Bryan Cook were all available, though.
General manager Howie Roseman said Jurgens and Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean were the top two on the Eagles’ board and they ended up getting both. That sounds great and maybe if the order was reversed there wouldn’t be as much to critique. Jurgens may also be able to play guard, but the concern with taking a center so early, when there were other holes to fill, was that the Eagles forced the pick when they don’t have that luxury.
Of course, the Eagles may have also found their center of the future. He’ll have big shoes to fill.
EJ Smith 👎
Jason Kelce has quietly become the new Jason Peters: the beloved veteran offensive lineman the Eagles are desperate to find an heir apparent for.
It looked like Isaac Seumalo was first in line for a time, then Landon Dickerson, and now Jurgens.
Kelce was seemingly ecstatic about the pick and Jurgens gives them a much improved chance of having continuity if next season is indeed Kelce’s last. Like Kelce, Jurgens is a smaller center who transitioned from another position and he’s exceptionally athletic.
The Eagles have had so much success pairing a nimble center with at least one hulking guard and now they have the next generation of that combination with Dickerson replacing Brandon Brooks and Jurgens eventually taking over for Kelce.
Jurgens’ potential aside, though, this pick left something to be desired in terms of resource allocation. This is the second year in a row the Eagles have used a second-round pick on an interior offensive lineman, which is a spot teams can typically find later-round prospects to fill.
The Eagles value interior linemen higher than most teams, but they also value pass rushers, and there were a few edge rusher prospects on the board who could have made an immediate impact while also offering plenty of upside. Oklahoma edge rusher Nik Bonitto and USC’s Drake Jackson both come to mind.
After trading up to select Jordan Davis, the Eagles didn’t have much draft capital to move up and just missed out on a run of defensive backs leading into their pick. They watched eight defensive backs go off the board in the 20 picks leading up to them at No. 51, but Nebraska cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, a potential starter, went nine picks after Jurgens.
If Jurgens becomes an All-Pro like Kelce, it won’t matter that he redshirted for a year or two or that the Eagles passed on some of those other options. Still, it’s fair to point out that there were high-upside players who a) played a more premium position and b) could have contributed much earlier in their careers.
Josh Tolentino 🤷🏻♂️
At the conclusion of Day 2 of the draft, Roseman revealed when the Eagles were on the clock at pick No. 51 that it was between choosing linebacker Nakobe Dean and center Cam Jurgens. Roseman explained that the Eagles favored Jurgens over Dean, a decision that fell in line with the team’s draft philosophy of prioritizing the offensive and defensive lines.
The Eagles wound up getting both guys at the top of their board, but the more premium pick was spent on Jurgens, who likely won’t immediately start. Jurgens was a center-only prospect at Nebraska, but Roseman and coach Nick Sirianni acknowledged that he’ll be tested at right guard in training camp. It’s possible Jurgens emerges as a starter candidate in that role, but his long-term projection is at center.
The conundrum is four-time All-Pro Jason Kelce, who is returning on a restructured one-year deal. The end of Kelce’s storied career might be near, but what if he goes through a similar situation next offseason in which he contemplates retirement and ultimately decides to return? That would likely leave the Eagles with a second-round pick on the bench for consecutive seasons. Outside of hypotheticals, Jurgens appears to have a similar playing style compared to Kelce, who helped the team scout him and other interior line prospects leading up to the draft.
Kelce could wind up being a perfect mentor to Jurgens, and it’s possible Jurgens blossoms into a stud. But having a second-round pick ride the bench doesn’t exactly move the needle, especially when the team already possesses quality depth across the O-line.