You never want to hand any player anything in the NFL, especially one who has 44 career snaps under his belt and that seemed to be the sentiment behind Nick Sirianni’s cautious approach with Cam Jurgens this week at the NFL’s annual spring meeting.
Drafted at No. 51 overall last April with the intent of replacing Jason Kelce whenever the All-Pro center decides to call it a career, that path took a detour when Kelce decided to play again in 2023.
The Eagles did lose Pro Bowl alternate Isaac Seumalo in free agency, however, and need a new starting right guard so the plan now is for Jurgens to slide over to play in between Kelce and fellow All-Pro Lane Johnson.
All of that is a thinly-veiled secret around the NovaCare Complex and one that has leaked out into the ether, perhaps explaining why Sirianni put the brakes on any proclamations at the position.
“You don’t have to get into the leader in the clubhouse at this particular point,” the Eagles’ head coach told reporters on Tuesday. “We’ll always see what we can do to play the best five that we have right there.”
The coach wasn’t as clandestine with the undrafted Reed Blankenship at safety because the Middle Tennessee State product saw significant time as an injury replacement last season, toiling in 348 defensive snaps.
“I think Reed did a nice job last year of playing a lot of meaningful plays and starting games last year,” Sirianni said. “No doubt we have confidence in him.”
Don’t get it wrong, though. The Eagles remain very high on Jurgens’ potential but the in-house belief is to go win the job, especially with veteran Jack Driscoll around, a player who has proven he can handle the position at a competent level.
“Cam had a really good year of sitting behind one of the best players in franchise history, one of the best centers in the history of this game,” said Sirianni. “We’re obviously ecstatic to have Jason back. He does so much for this team on the field and off the field and leadership roles with his play.
“Cam will continue to learn from him. And sure, we’ll see what’s the best situation for Cam and for the team but we have a lot of confidence in Cam.”
Versatility is always key with backups and the Eagles feel they have that on the interior with Jurgens and at guard/tackle with Driscoll.
“We’re excited that [Jurgens] can play multiple positions. So, to say ‘leader in the clubhouse’ at this particular time (to be the starting right guard), we still have a lot of things to go through before we have to make any decisions,” said Sirianni. “We’ll see where we go with him, but excited that he’s on our team and that he adds major depth to our team.”
The lone concern for Jurgens is size in that he’s a little small for a guard.
The wild card to all of this is the draft and the No. 10 overall pick because there are two potential options there in Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson, players who could start inside at OG and act as the heir apparent to Johnson, who has said he is starting to think about moving on after another two seasons or so.
As GM Howie Roseman stated when he drafted Jurgens last season: “I’m always going to go [offensive line], [defensive line]. That’s how we roll.”