The Right Stuff?
Analytics Report: Cam Jurgens Vs. The Field At Right Guard?
Cam Jurgens, the Eagles’ second-round pick in 2022, was initially drafted to be Jason Kelce’s heir apparent at center.
But the former Nebraska center is poised to see the field at right guard this season, aligned next to the five-time All Pro.
Although Eagles coaches have called Jurgens a candidate for right guard to replace the void left by Isaac Seuamalo’s departure in free agency, along with rookie Tyler Steen and veteran Jack Driscoll, they’ve given Jurgens the first-team reps through four training camp practices.
This story will take an analytics-heavy look at how Jurgens compares to Seumalo, how he compares to other NFL right guards, and what to expect from Jurgens if he holds down the team’s staring job.
First, we’ll look at Jurgens’ size and measurables comparisons to an average NFL starting guard*.
*All guards who played > 800 snaps in the 2022 NFL season; all measurables are from NFL website (combine) and performance metrics are from PFF.
As the chart reveals, Jurgens pegs to be a slightly undersized, but faster NFL guard. He’s close to the average in almost every statistical category, meaning his transition from center to guard shouldn’t be adversely impacted by his size, speed, or strength.
Now, we’ll look at how Jurgens compares to Seumalo, a 2016 third-round pick from Oregon State who played seven seasons for the Eagles and appeared in two Super Bowls before signing with the Steelers this offseason.
Seumalo played left and right guard for the Eagles and was known for having extremely strong hands.
The tale of tape show Jurgens is similar to Seumalo in terms of size and almost every other measurable but also that Jurgens provides more speed at the position, recording a significantly faster 40-yard dash.
This speed will be an important differentiation between the two, assuming it translates to game speed.
Here’s a look at the production that Jurgens will be replacing:
Seumalo allowed 20 total pressures (sacks + hits + hurries) during the 2022 season, a solid number that ranked 16th among guards who played at least 800 snaps.
To project how Jurgens will fare, it’s essential to find players who fit his measurables.
Five NFL guards last year possessed similar measurables to Jurgens. To fairly evaluate possible outcomes, we used the first season that each lineman played more than 800 snaps to compare data.
Three of those linemen would equate to a best-case scenario for Jurgens, while the other two would be a much less favorable projection.
All of these guards are built similarly.
While Bitonio was the only other guard of this elite group to run a 40-yard dash, Jurgens recorded a faster time.
Jurgens also has the biggest hands of this group. If he can perform at the level that these guards performed at in their first season with over 800 snaps, his statistics may look like this:
Cowboys right guard Zack Martin, an eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All Pro, earned first-team All Pro as a rookie out of Notre Dame.
Browns right guard and five-time Pro Bowler Joel Bitonio and James Daniels each started at an elite level, allowing just one sack apiece and 20 or fewer quarterback pressures.
If Jurgens plays at the level of this tier of guards, he will – at minimum – help maintain the standard of excellence for Eagles offensive linemen if not improve it.
Then, there’s the other side of the discussion:
Jurgens is similarly sized to both Parham and Ingram, with both being slightly heavier, but Jurgens is also faster than both.
All three were drafted in 2022. If Jurgens were to play at the level Parham and Ingram played last year as rookies, his stat line could also look like:
Vikings guard Ed Ingram and Raiders guard Dylan Parham each allowed the two highest numbers of QB pressures from the guard position in 2022.
These aren’t encouraging statistics, but also could be the product of a poor offensive line unit around them – the Vikings allowed the most pressures and Raiders allowed the fourth-most – along with poor individual performances throughout the season.
If Jurgens plays at this level, Eagles fans should be concerned.
However, with Kelce and All-Pro Lane Johnson around him, it’s feasible to assume the pressures should be significantly lower than the ones allowed by Parham and Ingram.
What’s It Mean?
It’s difficult to project performance solely on a player’s size and measureables. But Jurgens is set to join an offensive line that’s already elite.
He’s also being coached one of the NFL’s top offensive line coaches in Jeff Stoutland, who should help make the transition easier for Jurgens.
Measureables and environment suggest that Jurgens should play closer to the best-case scenario than worst-case scenario.
– Sam Finkel is a staff writer for InsideTheBirds.com who focuses on analytics.
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