With the initial craze of free agency now behind us, it is time to look forward to the 2022 NFL Draft. The Baltimore Ravens currently have 10 picks, including the No. 14 overall pick — their highest since drafting All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley with the No. 6 overall pick in 2016.
With the departure of Bradley Bozeman to the Carolina Panthers, the Ravens are slated to have a new starting center for the third year in a row. Even though they are on record expressing their confidence in the in-house options on the roster currently, and went as far as to dub Patrick Mekari the early favorite, they could still add more competition in the draft.
While countless mock drafts have linked this year’s top center prospect, Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, to Baltimore, the likelihood of General Manager Eric DeCosta spending a Top-15 pick on a non-premium position is low. If they still wanted to take a slightly undersized yet very athletic center in the draft, a solid day two option is Cam Jurgens from Nebraska.
The former Corn Husker is taller, bulkier, has longer arms than Linderbaum, and can move just as well. Unlike the former Hawkeye, he isn’t as scheme dependent and can excel in offenses that use zone or gap scheme power run games.
He was originally recruited to Nebraska as a tight end but made the transition to the offensive line. He became a three-year starter and is now one of the top prospects at the position in the entire draft, despite having only played it for a short time.
His list of strengths includes explosiveness, moving well in space, smooth lateral agility, and ability to quickly climb to the second level. He also shows good hand placement at the initial point of attack, the speed to get to the outside and upfield in a hurry on pull blocks, and a strong anchor in his pass sets that, paired with his sturdy base, helps him stall out bull rushes.
Cam Jurgens gonna be a fun study pic.twitter.com/02J6IeGYlc— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) January 28, 2022
Jurgens also looks for and finishes blocks aggressively and plays with the rugged demeanor that the Ravens have missed since Ryan Jensen left in free agency, minus the extra cocurricular trash-talking during, between, and after plays.
Most of his areas of concern are related to his measurables. While he is bigger than Linderbaum, his size and mass are still viewed as marginal at 6-foot-3 and 290lbs. If he is unable to pack on some more weight without sacrificing his speed and athleticism, Jurgens will have a hard time keeping prototypical or freakishly-sized interior defense linemen from shedding his blocks. He can lose his balance at times when trying to initiate contact, so he’ll need to refrain from lunging into blocks at the next level and focus more on sustaining them.
Jurgens has been shooting up draft boards during the pre-draft process after he showed off his 4.92 speed, agility, and movement skills at the NFL Scouting Combine. He has gone from a day three projection to a day two lock and was even dubbed an ideal fit for the Ravens in the second round by NFL Networks’ Chad Reuter.
No. 45 overall still might be a little too high and too early to take a center but if he’s still around when they’re on the clock in the third round or can trade back in the second, Jurgens would make a great Raven at the right value.