2022 NFL Draft: C Cam Jurgens draft profile

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Second Coming of Dave Rimington

Nebraska center, Cam Jurgens, is a frustrating player to watch. He has a tantalizing combination of physical attributes and mental attitude that could make him an excellent NFL offensive lineman, but his lapses in technique and consistency leave you feeling that something is off. Jurgens should impress in the pre-draft workouts and could boost his draft stock. I could see him shooting up draft boards and being drafted earlier than he's currently projected. If that doesn't happen, he'll be an intriguing prospect to consider in the later rounds as a potential diamond in the rough.

Nebraska's coach, Scott Frost, was so impressed by Jurgens that Frost compared him to legendary college center, Dave Rimington. The hype was probably unfair, considering that Jurgens didn't even play offensive line until college. After a substantial jump up in his individual performance in 2021, Jurgens is still only scratching the surface of how good he could become. Still, I have some reservations about whether he can ever fulfill his sky high potential. Expect him to be a polarizing "boom or bust" draft prospect that could put team scouts and offensive line coaches at odds with each other, debating how to evaluate Jurgens and project how his NFL career will turn out.


Name: Cam Jurgens

School: Nebraska

Size: Listed at 6'3'' tall, 290 pounds

Age: Turns 23 in April. Redshirt Junior. Nutrition and health sciences major.

From small town in Nebraska. Was very good discus and shot put thrower in high school, did some track and field in college. Also played basketball in HS. Was middle linebacker and hybrid TE in HS. As TE, used like a huge RB in the backfield at times, was dominating blocking in-line TE (might as well have been an extra offensive lineman), split out in slot or wide as receiving TE other plays. Also punted. Broke his ankle (left) his senior season in HS. ESPN ranked him as the 4th best TE recruit in the country. Top ranked football recruit in state, 4 star recruit.

Practiced as TE, G and C as freshman in 2018, but broke metatarsal bone in his right foot early in 2018 season. Was limited in training camp in 2019 due to undisclosed injury (reported to be left foot issue), also had undisclosed injury in middle of 2020 season.

As redshirt freshman in 2019, was first frosh to ever start at center in modern history of Nebraska football. Had problems with poor snaps in debut, said he was nervous making 1st start. Plagued by problems with bad snaps in 2020. Had 5 bad snaps in one game (Iowa) including 2 that went over head of QB, leading to brief benching during the game. Coach said foot injuries contributed to problems snapping the ball. The snapping problem was less frequent in 2021, but in the games I watched he still had a couple snaps get away from him and either fly high and wide of the QB or drift off to the side (when he misses they always seem to go to the right) so still some lingering questions about his snap consistency.

Substantially improved his PFF grade to 70.8 last season ranking as the 46th best C in the nation. PFF says he allowed only 1 sack in 3 seasons as starter. PFF run and pass blocking grades virtually identical.

An athletic freak. In winter strength and conditioning testing drills, had 34.5'' vertical jump, hang clean 405 pounds, squat 723 pounds and placed 2nd on the team in total performance index (strength and agility testing adjusted for body size), with the best ever recorded OL performance in school history.

CBSSports 176th overall prospect (late 5th round)

PFN (Tony Pauline) ranks as the 2nd best center prospect, 142nd overall with Rd 4 to 5 projection (slot would be late 4th round range).


Glass eater, tough guy, bully on field. Optimum level of aggression and physicality to be NFL lineman. Had 2 late hit penalties against Oklahoma last season that when NFL coaches see the plays on film they'll probably salivate and praise Jurgens instead of seeing the penalties as negatives. On the first play, Jurgens knocks a DB to the ground then jumps on the top of the defender to finish the block. The flag is questionable, because the action happens very close in time to the whistle being blown. On the 2nd play, it is a screen pass behind the LOS to the RB. Jurgens at about his own 45 yard line engages a DB. Jurgens locks on and drives the DB backwards all the way to the OU 28 (no joke, he treats the DB like a push car and drives him nearly 30 yards down the field) then delivers one final violent shove, sending the DB sprawling backwards and landing on the OU 16, drawing another flag. Yeah, it is a penalty, but it is also an impressive highlight play. Mauls smaller defenders. Like an angry bull on the field looking to hit someone.

Scheme diverse, which is relatively rare these days, because so many other centers are either small and athletic zone scheme centers or big and slow phonebooth centers who aren't very mobile. Jurgens is both very athletic with great blocking range and movement, but with good size, strength and power. He can block on gap or power runs and on wide zone running plays. Hip fluidity to get body around and seal on zone blocks.

Assigned to do difficult things in offensive scheme. Used frequently on long pulls going around OT. Asked to pull out wide on pass blocks to block edge defender, replacing an OT who blocks inside to help the G.

Athleticism to recover when he's in trouble. He gets out of position too often, but many times I thought the defender was about to go around him or slip past him cleanly, but instead Jurgens was able to turn and partly salvage the block. Has ability to settle when bull rushed. I don't like that Jurgens makes so many mistakes, but even on negatively graded reps you see some of his positive physical attributes come into play.

Fights hard, decent grip strength and hand speed. The technique and consistency with his hand placements aren't quite there, which leads to issues sustaining blocks, but just like with his recovery ability, you can tell that he has the basic physical building blocks to win those hand fights if he could learn to clean up some of his mistakes. Battles hard to sustain blocks, like a wrestler, even though he doesn't have wrestling background. Wide stance and active feet to maintain base on blocks. Runs feet through run blocks.

Bursts quickly out of stance to engage on down blocks. Can get to reach blocks. Rangy moving laterally on double team and combo blocks. Very impressive and explosive forward burst to 2nd level. Can redirect at the 2nd level to adjust to movement of defenders and try to pick them off, hips not tight. Good quickness and speed on pulls. Excellent range on tunnel screens to WR, getting out wide from one hashmark to the other. Stays low moving laterally (doesn't pop up high), cat like movement, staying in powerful and loaded stance, then transferring energy into block, flexible and can hit target area to deliver effective shove on DT on combo block. Plays with low center of gravity and gets good leverage on blocks.

Scans okay as helper. High work rate, early looks for work. Helps guards aggressively. On a wide zone run play, his eyes sorted through 3 different defenders in his blocking progression.

One of my favorite plays, the QB throws an interception on the opponent's 10 yard line with Jurgens initially on the opposite hashmark. The CB starts running down the sideline with a convoy of blockers and when the CB is at his own 20, Jurgens is at the 23 on the near hash. Jurgens races down the field at a full sprint. When the CB tries to cut inside, Jurgens reaches out and pulls him down from behind at the Nebraska 26. For an offensive lineman to run that fast for such a long distance, it illustrates his athleticism.

Coaches say that he leads by example and holds his teammates accountable in practice.

His background at TE could make him useful as an extra offensive lineman in the red zone or on 3rd downs.

Probably would be an excellent special teams player.


Concerning injury history to lower extremities on both sides.

Very frequently overreacts and overextends, both at the LOS and at the 2nd level, head can duck forward into blocks. This opens him up to countermoves, spins, swim moves, etc. back in the opposite direction. He goes from being in a good position to suddenly being in trouble by being too aggressive. Needs to be more patient and composed. More of a brawler than a technician.

Gets pulled off balance and thrown to side or to his knees some plays, vulnerable to push pull moves. Initial hand placements need to improve, lets DTs get into his chest. On long 3rd down pass, DT rips him sideways, C falls to his knees and DT is free to the QB, hitting the QB right as pass is being released. Another long 3rd down, initial hand placement weak, C gets walked backwards in pocket, salvages block, but allows DT to get hand up and bother throwing window for QB. Got help from RG on inside zone run, but instead of finishing block on DT and making effective seal, he allows DT to toss him to side and discard, then tackle the RB.

Overruns landmarks, blocking angle not right. Often goes too far upfield, opening door for defenders to backdoor him, whether at LOS on trap runs or zone runs or against LBs at 2nd level. It is like he thinks he has to go get the defender instead of understanding that fundamentally all he needs to do to effectively block is get in the way and prevent the defender from getting to the ball carrier. Plays C like he's a middle linebacker, hunting to deliver a hit. When he gets out of position and misses the block, Jurgens sometimes tries to grab the defender from the side or from behind, a habit that could lead to holding penalties. Too aggressively goes after DT on inside zone run, gets creased when the DT moves sideways, giving up TFL.

Tunnel screen out wide to the WR. Jurgens should be able to block the LB to create an alley for the WR but overruns the block and misses the LB, can't find the proper angle.

Running play out wide, C blocking on the backside of the play. C should chip the DT, then slide sideways and pick off the LB trying to pursue. C aggressively shoves the DT and is too late to get in the way of the LB, then desperately reaches out and tries to grab the LB, lucky that he misses, otherwise it might have been a holding penalty. Jurgens plays hard, but he needs to play smarter.

Doesn't look like he communicates with his guards to call out games and blitzes to alert them to danger coming. That's just conjecture on my part, but there were several plays like this and Jurgens didn't appear to be aware as to things developing or verbally make any call to get the G to adjust. Whether against a DT twist, 3 man loop or LB blitz, there were issues for Nebraska handling relatively basic defensive moves. When he doesn't visually see things early, sometimes his feet stop and he can't slide laterally in time to get in good blocking position, forced to try to desperately recover.

Seemingly always at least one step too late reacting to basic DT twists. Stays too long on the 1st DT and struggles to switch off to 2nd defender at the proper moment. Long 3rd down play, 3 man loop and C is way too late reacting to the looping LB. On run play combo block, stays too long on the DT and ends up missing the LB.

Bad snaps ruin plays and can end drives. Team down by 2 scores in 4th quarter, driving to try to rally, his poor snap flies past QB and leads to 2nd & 24 situation, effectively the same as if he had drawn a dead ball 15 yard penalty.

Appears to make mental mistakes. Created a false start penalty when he didn't snap the ball on time. On inside running play, turned DT loose who he probably was supposed to block, causing run to be stuffed.

Average size, doesn't create big surge in short yardage situations. Undersized for G position at NFL level.

Comes across as being a bit immature in interviews. Not overly impressive in how he answers questions.

I wonder if maybe Jurgens would have been better off if Nebraska had kept him at TE or maybe tried him at LB. He's still a good pro prospect at OL, but sometimes I wonder if he could play a different position at least as well.

Pro Comparison and Grade

Nick Hardwick (3rd round 2004 Chargers, Purdue), 5th round grade

When Hardwick was a sophomore at Purdue, Drew Brees and the Boilermakers went to the Rose Bowl, which was a huge deal. They hadn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1967. Hardwick wasn't on that team, he was just a normal college student at the time. In fact, he didn't even play varsity football in high school. Hardwick was in Navy ROTC and was planning on becoming a Marine Corps infantry officer. Inspired by Brees and caught up in the Purdue campus football mania that erupted around the success of the football team, Hardwick happened to see an advertisement for an open tryout to walk onto the football team. He decided to give it a shot.

Hardwick made the team. Near the end of that season, Purdue's starting center suffered an ACL injury prior to the team's bowl game. Hardwick was the injury replacement and had to learn how to snap leading up to the bowl game. He went up against the highly touted Tank Johnson (a 2nd round pick in 2004). Performing well in the game, Hardwick said that was the moment he realized he would have a future playing as a center in the NFL.

The Chargers already had a starting center, Jason Ball, but Ball became embroiled in a contract dispute with the Chargers and held out. The notoriously stingy Chargers decided to move on and made Hardwick the new starter as part of a revamped offensive line. The dramatic improvement in the OL for the Chargers was part of the reason Drew Brees went from being considered a draft bust who wasn't NFL starter material to turning his career around and starting down the path to being an NFL HOFer. Hardwick went on to become a Pro Bowl center and spent his entire career with the Chargers.

The story of Aeneas Williams, who walked on at Southern, is probably more improbable that Hardwick's, but for Hardwick to go from having almost no football experience to being an NFL Pro Bowler is still amazing in its own right.

I definitely could see an NFL team coveting Cam Jurgens and taking him in the 3rd round, the same round where Hardwick was selected. Maybe the Rams could be tempted. The physical tools are there for Jurgens to become one of the best centers in the NFL someday. Jurgens is still so rough around the edges, however, that I see him as a project player and in general I'm not a huge fan of those types of draft prospects, which is why I didn't grade him that high.

Cam Jurgens is a prospect to watch at the Combine. I'm interested in seeing what type of testing numbers he'll post.