Draft week has finally arrived as 262 prospective NFL players will hear their names called on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. At least a few Huskers will likely be among them, perhaps as early as day two.
As we draw closer to draft day for these former Huskers, Hail varsity is looking bath at their journey to this point to put a spotlight on what they’ve done to put them in this position.
Up first is center Cam Jurgens.
Projections in recent mock drafts:
- ESPN (Jordan Reid, $): 61 (R2)
- The Athletic (Dane Brugler, $): 55 (R2)
- CBS Sports (Ryan Wilson): 93 (R3)
- CBS Sports (Chris Trapasso): 96 (R3)
- Sporting News (Vinnie Iyer): 143 (R4)
- NFL.com (Chad Reuter): 63 (R2)
Jurgens is the first Husker off the board in four of the six mock drafts I looked at, and his range appears to be in the second through fourth rounds. If that range holds true, he’ll be the earliest Husker taken since at least 2016, and if he lands in the second round he’d be the first Husker to do so since Randy Gregory in 2015.
One of Scott Frost’s first big wins when he took over as Nebraska’s head coach was retaining Jurgens in Nebraska’s 2018 recruiting class. The 4-star recruit arrived on campus as a tight end after playing all over the field at Beatrice High School.
Jurgens played in one game as a blocking tight end during his first season before suffering an injury, and he redshirted that year. While he worked his way back from the injury, Frost and the coaching staff decided to move him to center, where he played the rest of his career.
Jurgens displayed rare athleticism for a player of his size, and Frost thought he was best served adding more weight and playing in the trenches. Building up his body with the right kind of weight was a process that lasted his entire Nebraska career, but he weighed in at just over 300 pounds at Nebraska’s pro day.
Jurgens spent most of fall camp heading into the 2019 season getting healthy, but once he got cleared to play Frost slotted him in as the starting center with just a couple weeks to prepare and he started every game that season. Jurgens started seven games in 2020 as well, missing one with an injury.
He showed off his strength and athleticism throughout the first two seasons with his ability to pull around or get to the second level and he delivered some crushing blocks, but he also struggled with a center’s second responsibility — snapping the ball on time and on target (the first would be identifying the defensive look and shifting coverage). His errant snaps made things tough on quarterback Adrian Martinez in some big moments and the overall offense struggled as a result. At one point, he got momentarily benched after a particularly bad snap.
However, Jurgens finally cleaned up his snapping issues for the most part heading into this past season and started every game, earning third-team All-Big Ten accolades in the process. He displayed the play-t0-the-echo-of-the-whistle mindset that many NFL teams like to see from linemen and continued to improved his technique in just his third full season at the position.
Jurgens had up to two seasons of eligibility remaining in Lincoln but after four seasons at Nebraska decided he was ready to enter the draft. He received an invitation to the NFL Combine and turned some heads as he ran a 4.92-second 40-yard dash, good for third among all offensive linemen at the draft. He also did 25 reps during the bench press.
At Nebraska’s pro day last month, Jurgens showed off his explosiveness with a 33-inch vertical jump and a 9-foot-11 broad jump, both results that would have ranked well among the athletes that participated in those tests at the combine.
Jurgens bet on himself, that he’d be able to improve his stock during the pre-draft process, and that gamble looks to be paying off as Jurgens appears to have a great shot of hearing his name called on day two of the draft, either as a center or a guard.
Jacob is in his third year with Hail Varsity covering Husker athletics. He has also written extensively for SB Nation’s Bright Side of the Sun and The Creightonian. His love of basketball can best be described as an obsession and if you need to find him, he’s probably in a gym somewhere watching, coaching or playing hoops.