Vikings

Michael Jurgens Brings Versatility To the Vikings' Interior

Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings may have waited until the seventh round of the 2024 NFL Draft to take Michael Jurgens, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t excited about what he brings to the team. In the video the team released covering the draft, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah can be seen talking OL coach Chris Kuper off the ledge when the team moved to draft Will Reichard before eventually coming back to Jurgens.

Jurgens was a six-year player at Wake Forest and primarily played center before moving over to LG for his final season. That means he has plenty of experience, with over 3,300 career snaps, according to PFF. Jurgens’ athletic testing is interesting because he has good explosion scores, including a 32″ vertical and an 8’11” broad jump. However, his timed run was quite slow, with just a 5.43-second 40-yard dash.

Jurgens also posted an impressive 7.50-second three-cone drill but just an average 4.80-second short shuttle, which I view as the most important drill for offensive linemen. At 6’4 3/4″, Jurgens is on the taller end for interior offensive linemen with decent size, weighing in at 307 lbs. His 32″ arms are a slight concern for interior players, but plenty of guys, including Justin Pugh, Corey Linsley, and Joe Thuney has succeeded with that arm length.

In all, Jurgens’ athletic testing led to a good, not great, RAS of 7.62:

Will Jurgens pay back Minnesota’s excitement in drafting him? Only time will tell, but I went to the tape to check out what he brings to the Vikings. I was able to watch seven games in total. In three of those (vs. Army, Boston College, and Clemson in 2022), Jurgens was at C, and in the other four (Clemson, NC State, Notre Dame, and Pitt in 2023), Jurgens played LG. He wore No. 55 in all of the games.

Athleticism

Throughout his tape, I would say that Jurgens showcases good, but not great, movement skills for a lineman. Jurgens was not necessarily asked to execute difficult run concepts like reaching defensive linemen who are a gap away from him. However, he showcased the ability to get off the ball and reach defenders to either side of him, like in the play below:

Instead of reaching players, Jurgens was frequently asked to combo block up to the second level and generally did a nice job of getting to his LB target. Here is a play where he effectively climbs to the second level and seals off an LB:

The Wake Forest offense is a bit more difficult to decipher than other offenses. I believe their “long mesh” concepts often ask their linemen to hold their first-level blocks instead of quickly climbing off of double teams, giving time for the throw option of the mesh to play out without incurring an illegal man downfield penalty.

As such, Jurgens can look slow to climb in some instances. However, I think that is a part of the design. To me, it looks like Wake Forest teaches their linemen to double until they read the LB at the second level triggering on the run. You can see a good example in the play below, where I would normally criticize Jurgens for staying on the block for so long, but he seals off the LB:

Jurgens was also very effective as a puller in the limited reps he was asked to do so. He can read the DE’s intentions and effectively kick him out or log him, leading the way for the RB.

Jurgens was also able to get out in space on screens, like on the WR screen below.

Still, to me, Jurgens’ game has athletic limitations. When reaching, Jurgens can get too far out in front of the player he’s trying to block, giving a backdoor opportunity that he is unable to recover from and prevent, like in the two plays below.

Jurgens’ lack of recovery quickness also showed up in pass protection. His losses in that regard were mostly due to his inability to handle his opponent’s quick rushes. Jurgens got beaten by defenders crossing his face and also in situations where he overcommitted blocking a defender on a stunt, and the looper coming around was able to beat him to a spot and affect the quarterback before he could recover.

Overall, Jurgen’s athleticism is solid for the offensive line position and good enough to allow him to potentially develop into an NFL starter. However, he lacks access to some of the high-level athletic blocks that some of the best OL athletes in the NFL can make, which could theoretically limit his upside as a player.

play strength

Jurgens also showcases significant play strength in his game. He may not get immediate knockback or “dent” defenders consistently. Still, he shows very good leg drive and can move defenders down the field, like in the clip below:

He generated movement consistently in the run game, like in the compilation below:

Jurgens also had a number of plays that showed impressive core strength. He was able to positionally block defenders out of plays by engaging and turning them away from the play. He also “washed” defenders down the line of scrimmage on down blocks or zone blocks that cut behind him when the defender played the zone flow too aggressively.

In pass protection, Jurgens has really good technique to anchor well. He can take hop steps to slow the rush and recover to gain leverage on the defender, like in the play below:

A lot of playing offensive line is the ability to recover when you’re in a bad position, and Jurgens has the toolbox to do that from a leverage perspective. He is anchoring against Bryan Bresee, who the New Orleans Saints took in the first round in 2023:

Here are a number of examples of Jurgens anchoring against rushes:

That’s not to say that Jurgens has overwhelming play strength. There were notable losses where he was unable to anchor, and that may be because he’s winning with technique rather than true strength. If more technically sound NFL opponents are able to keep leverage against him, he may begin to struggle, like in the rep below where he gets run over:

In some instances, Jurgens’ height works against him and he can play a little high, which loses him leverage and has created double team losses. It’s not consistent enough to be a true concern, but something to watch out for at the next level as opponents get more difficult:

To finish it off on a positive note, Jurgens plays with a little bit of a mean streak and will finish off or pancake defenders. He doesn’t typically toe the line and ask for a penalty, but his ability to get opponents on the ground was a nice thing to see on tape:

In all, play strength could be a reason that Jurgens succeeds in the NFL. He shows a good technical understanding of how to generate power and move opponents where he wants them to go.

mental processing and teamwork

With significant center experience, Jurgens seems to understand how to set protections and direct an offensive line. He even did this when playing LG in 2023, which can be seen in the play below:

As a pass protector, you can also see him work well to pick up stunts. He has the mental recognition skills to do it, as shown in the play below. Jurgens feels the defender rushing against him back off, and swings his head to the stunting player:

This recognition frequently led to smooth pass-offs and well-blocked plays. Here’s a compilation:

Jurgens also did well on double teams to work with his teammate and take over blocks or release to the second level. This requires OL familiarity and coordination, and the Wake Forest line clearly had that:

Based on his experience and the reps he shows on tape, I’m not worried about Jurgens’ ability to transition to the NFL mentally. NFL offenses are more complicated than the one he ran at Wake Forest, so there’s always room for adjustment. However, even if Jurgens has to work initially to get there, I think he will become a smart player.

conclusion

Michael Jurgens uses good technique to accentuate his play strength, where he is able to get significant movement on defenders in the run game by keeping good leverage and driving with his feet to generate push. He can positionally block them out of the play, by understanding the angle the RB is attacking at and using his core strength to move himself between the defender and RB after contact. Finally, his technique allows him anchor against pass rushes with good recovery. Jurgens may not approach the elite strength of some of the top players in the NFL, and opponents overpowered him in a few instances. Still, his ability to play with leverage is a strong positive in his game.

Jurgens is adequate from an athletic perspective. He can execute reach blocks on defenders close to him but was rarely asked to execute more difficult ones. When climbing to the second level, he can find and block defenders out of the play. There are instances where he will be late to climb off of a double team, and LBs will beat him to the spot. However, I think that in many cases, those can be explained by some of the rules Wake Forest had for their offensive line due to their unique long mesh play design.

Jurgens is also very effective as a puller, getting out in front of the play and showing the ability to attack the defender at the correct angle to create space. In pass protection, though, he has some issues taking on quickness from defenders who try to jump a gap on him. He may not have the quick recovery skills needed to deal with smaller, elite athletes on the interior at the NFL level.

From a mental perspective, I see no reason why Jurgens can’t succeed in the NFL. His experience at C has given him a knowledge of line calls, something that he appeared to showcase even at LG. He can recognize stunts quickly and cut them off before they have a chance to affect the quarterback and will work well in coordination with teammates to execute double-team blocks.

Michael Jurgens profiles as interior depth for the Vikings. It’s unlikely that he will compete for a starting spot in his first year, but his C experience should help him provide versatile depth at the position. On the interior, the Vikings have four linemen that feel like roster locks in Blake Brandel, Garrett Bradbury, Ed Ingram, and Dalton Risner. However, they lack significant experience after that. Only Dan Feeney has significant experience, and he’s a journeyman who has played under 400 snaps combined over the past three seasons and is making less than $2 million. Jurgens could easily usurp him and earn a roster spot in his first season, with the potential to develop into an eventual starter.

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