The 2022 NFL Draft doesn’t have an incredibly deep center group. That’s even more true with players like Jarrett Patterson and Ricky Stromberg returning to school. But some NFL Draft scouting reports, including that of Nebraska’s Cameron Jurgens, still demand attention. Jurgens is an underrated center option in the 2022 class — one who could potentially earn starting reps at the next level.
Cameron Jurgens NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Center
- School: Nebraska
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 290 pounds
Cameron Jurgens Scouting Report
There’s no arguing that the 2022 NFL Draft’s center class has gotten weaker since last August. Several projected top options chose to return to school, leaving a gap behind the consensus top positional player, Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum.
Even so, the class is not barren by any means. Several players have projected center versatility and showed it at the Senior Bowl. And there are a few natural centers that have flown under the radar to this point. Nebraska C Jergens is one such player, and he could be coveted, especially by certain offensive schemes.
Jurgens’ athletic profile
Jurgens clearly fits a certain mold at the center position. He’s on the smaller side, listed at just 6’3″, 290 pounds. That alone may rule him out for some teams. But Jurgens largely makes up for his size deficiencies with his athleticism. He’s quick and violent off the snap, generating momentum without strain. Jurgens explodes upfield and gets to the second level in a hurry, and can also wall off defenders on the backside.
In space, Jurgens has impressive mobility. He pursues targets with urgency and builds up speed into his blocks. He can also climb the second level and move from block to block.
Moreover, Jurgens is a spry lateral athlete who adjusts his blocking angles quickly and attacks leverage. He has the lateral athleticism to recover and match blitzers who shoot through lanes. In a similar vein, he can flip his hips and surge into stunting defenders when patrolling the interior.
Beyond his athleticism, Jurgens has enough frame density and grip strength to absorb modest amounts of power at initial contact. He’s also afforded good natural leverage with his frame, and can get under opponents’ pads fairly easily. Jurgens uses that natural leverage to establish anchors and generate movement as well. Against smaller rushers, his strength is more effective. The Nebraska C can latch onto frames and nullify advances.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Jurgens’ athleticism allows him to attain proper positioning with relative consistency. But he also does a good job of maximizing his reps when he gets to that point. The Nebraska C plays with a square base and good knee bend. He often keeps that base while matching rushers. Jurgens can also widen that base to absorb and gather power rushes.
Going further, Jurgens’ hands are violent, and he surges into the contact point with force. He’s a physical finisher who plays with 100% energy, all the way to the end of the rep. Jurgens has an aggressive help mentality. He keeps his eyes up and alert and throws himself at defenders. At the point of attack, Jurgens generates impressive upper-body torque, even on moving blocks. He has enough power to drive linebackers into the ground.
Overall, Jurgens is a high-energy blocker who flashes fast hands and maintains a combative attitude. But he’s also an assignment-sound player who does his part to keep plays alive. In pass protection, Jurgens has shown to use hand replacement to reset his anchor and hold strong. As a run blocker, he shoots his pads into blocks and maintains steady leg drive to move defenders downfield.
Areas for improvement
With his athleticism and physical style, Jurgens provides some appeal. However, there are some limitations in his game. Most notably, he doesn’t have elite play strength. His anchor can be tugged around and wrenched loose. His grip strength can be inconsistent, and he can be thrown off-balance by stronger defenders.
Moreover, Jurgens also loses balance initiating contact at times and can’t always sustain blocks. He’s smaller than most centers, with a shorter reach. Thus, Jurgens can be driven back by longer, more powerful players. He also struggles to drive larger linemen out of plays.
With his size, Jurgen’s margin for error is relatively slim. That’s why several operational inconsistencies also bear noting. At times, Jurgens’ hands can be too wide, exposing his torso to power. He also occasionally stands too upright out of his stance. Jurgens’ hands can strike more cleanly at the contact point, as he doesn’t always properly channel his momentum. The Nebraska C can also be more coordinated when engaging in hand-fighting.
Furthermore, Jurgens can be a little reckless with his physicality and draws penalties after the snap. He could also improve his angles. The Nebraska C occasionally opens his hips too early in pass protection, allowing lanes for blitzers. He also sometimes overshoots angles in space, losing track of blitzers. There are times when Jurgens moves too far upfield and gives up space. He can also be late to react as a help blocker, getting grabby when he needs to recover leverage.
Jurgens’ 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview
Right away, Jurgens stands out with his athleticism. He moves well in space, but he also has the short-range athleticism to recover and match blockers on the interior. Jurgens generally plays with good knee bend and pad level and has enough density to absorb power in certain settings. He’s also violent with his hands and can time his extensions properly.
Jurgens has developed into a legitimate center prospect with starting upside, but he may be a bit scheme-specific. His size made him susceptible to power in college, and he also struggled to maintain his anchors against stronger players. Such players were able to tug Jurgens aside and get him off-balance. Additionally, the Nebraska C wasn’t as consistent displacing interior defensive linemen in the running game.
Jurgens brings a lot of positive qualities — chief among them is his athleticism, natural leverage, and physical edge. Jurgens at least holds up in pass protection, but he may need to get stronger in order to be a high-level starter at the next level.
As of now, Jurgens fits best in zone schemes, where he’ll be able to get out in space more and attack mismatches with linebackers at the second level. For scheme fits, he could be worth a top 100 pick.
Jurgens’ Player Profile
Seeing how easily Jurgens moves on the football field, it comes as no surprise that he was a highly rated hybrid tight end coming out of the 2018 recruiting class. Playing fullback and tight end for his high school, Jurgens earned a four-star recruit designation. He was a top-250 recruit in the nation on ESPN’s board and the top overall recruit in the state of Nebraska.
There wasn’t a huge market for a player of Jurgens’ type, but the future Nebraska C still had offers from Kansas State and UCLA, among others. Even so, Jurgens coveted the opportunity to play Power Five football in-state. And when the Cornhuskers came calling, he eventually accepted their offer.
Jurgens’ career at Nebraska
Jurgens came to Nebraska at just over 240 pounds but bulked up to 270 ahead of his true freshman season in 2018. He only played in one game, however, before a season-ending injury forced him off the field.
In his first game against Troy, he played tight end. But after working his way back, Jurgens transitioned to center full-time in 2019. The results were surprising.
The Nebraska C turned heads by starting every game in his first season at the position. He’d carry over that role in 2020, starting seven of eight games in a COVID-impacted season. In 2021, Jurgens once again started every game. Jurgens earned third-team All-Big Ten honors for his play from the coaches — a sign of league-wide validation for the former TE.
Along the way, while serving as a full-time starter at the center position, Jurgens was an Academic All-Big Ten honoree in each of his three seasons.
Jurgens’ NFL Draft ascension
The thinning center class has opened up an opportunity for Jurgens, who was largely overlooked until recently in the NFL Draft process. NFL Combine testing should only help the Nebraska C. His play strength is something that can’t be completely confirmed at the event in Indianapolis. But Jurgens has shown he can add weight and power to his frame without sapping athleticism.
Especially for zone-heavy teams with a need at the center position, Jurgens is an intriguing prospect. He doesn’t have the positional versatility that other interior offensive linemen have. But at the center of the line, he has the strong leverage, athleticism, and physical nature to be a solid starter. On top of that, his ability to block on the move could make him a road grader and a key lead blocker in the running game.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Cameron Jurgens
Positives: Incredibly athletic center prospect who flashed dominance throughout college. Explosive at the point, fires off the snap into blocks, and moves well about the field. Athletic and quickly gets out to the second level. Easily redirects to defenders and shows the ability to hit a moving target.
Nasty, always looking for someone to hit, and out-positions opponents from the action. Blocks with terrific pad level and consistently gets leverage on opponents. Quick when asked to kick out or pull across the line of scrimmage. Works his hands throughout the action. Outstanding with the shotgun snap.
Negatives: Lacks a dominant base and gets pushed back off the line. Showed a lot of inconsistency after a tremendous freshman season.
Analysis: I graded Jurgens as a potential top-60 choice after his outstanding redshirt freshman campaign in 2019, but his game leveled off after that. He’s one of the more athletic interior blockers in this year’s draft and is quite possibly the best fit for a zone-blocking system.
He possesses growth potential and should only get better as he physically matures and adds strength to his game. Jurgens comes with a tremendous amount of upside and will be a steal outside the draft’s initial 75 picks.