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NFL Draft

Is Phil Jurkovec Poised For Breakout Season?

  • The Draft Network
  • July 23, 2021
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After a storied high school career in Pennsylvania that saw him compile a state single-season record 5,180 total yards while leading Pine-Richland High School to a perfect 16-0 record and a 6A State Championship, quarterback Phil Jurkovec took his talents to Notre Dame. A 4-star recruit, his arrival at South Bend was met with excitement from head coach Brian Kelly.

Part of a loaded crop of high school recruits that included the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm, Sam Ehlinger, and Kellen Mond, Kelly not only believed Jurkovec was the best quarterback in the class but among the best his eyes have ever seen.

“I think he's the best quarterback in the country,” Kelly said. “He's somebody that I could put up against any quarterback that I've ever seen.”

Despite the praise from Kelly, Jurkovec’s tenure with The Irish was over after just two seasons where he attempted a total of 18 passes. When opening up about his departure from Notre Dame, Jurkovec told Matt Fortuna of The Athletic that his love for football was diminishing during his time with The Irish.

“Yeah, well I’ve always loved football, but the past couple years through a lot of things that happened, I was losing the love for the game and that was really heartbreaking for me,” Jurkovec said.

Jurkvoec announced his transfer to Boston College in January of 2020 and shared that the Eagles’ coaching staff was a major factor in why he came to Chestnut Hill.

“The two criteria I was looking at when making a choice as to where to go were really about the coaches,” said Jurkovec. “[I looked for] the coaches that were going to believe in me and develop me, because I think I have a lot of room to grow. And that’s what I found with Coach Hafley and Coach Cignetti.”

Offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti has implemented a pro-style passing offense that features five- and seven-step drops, complex protection schemes, and NFL route concepts. Cignetti brings 13 years of NFL experience to the table including time spent as the quarterbacks coach to Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning, Sam Bradford, and Alex Smith. The NFL style of offense that Cignetti employs is a major benefit to Jurkovec for his development and in the evaluation process. Unlike other quarterbacks in the rising draft class and in recent years, there is no guesswork on Jurkovec running NFL concepts. And while the results were often uneven in 2020, his second season in the system with a traditional offseason this time around should prove helpful in his development.

Jurkovec shared that the NFL-style offense that Cignetti runs was “definitely” a reason he wanted to come to Boston College and it was something they sold him on.

A big factor in why Jurkovec could be primed for a breakout season is the offensive infrastructure around him. Not only should he be more comfortable with the scheme, but all five of Boston College’s starting offensive linemen are returning and they combine for more than 120 career starts—and should produce multiple NFL draft selections.

Jurkovec’s top receiver, Zay Flowers, returns this season coming off an All-ACC campaign that produced 892 yards and nine touchdowns. Flowers became just the second wide receiver in program history to earn First-Team All-ACC honors. Veterans CJ Lewis and Jaelen Gill also return, meaning all three of Jurkovec’s leading wide receivers from 2020 are back in the mix. A starter in 2018 and 2019, Kobay White is set to return at receiver after missing the 2020 season due to injury. Trae Barry, a transfer from Jacksonville State, is likely to take over for Hunter Long at tight end. Barry brings an exciting blend of size, athleticism, and ball skills as he levels up in competition. He’s firmly on the NFL’s radar and a productive 2021 campaign would elevate his draft stock.

After evaluating his performance in 2020, it’s easy to understand why there is buzz about Jurkovec as an NFL quarterback. Instantly, his size and competitive toughness shine on tape. He exhausts his reads, hangs in the pocket, keeps his eyes down the field, and is willing to stare down the barrel and make throws. He holds his own under pressure and can win outside of structure when things break down around him. From an arm talent perspective, he makes big-time throws down the field, outside the numbers, and in tight windows that are required of NFL passers. He embraces a gunslinger’s mentality and is willing to give his weapons opportunities to make plays on the ball.

At ACC Kickoff, head coach Jeff Hafley affirmed those positive traits.

“He's so talented,” Hafley said. “He can throw the ball all over the field. He's big, he's strong, he's hard to sack. He sees it, he can process it.” 

The concerns that I have regarding Jurkovec stem from there being a lot on his plate in the Boston College offense and a lack of time on task in the system and with his weapons to develop chemistry and timing. There appeared to be a lack of rhythm with his pass drops and the overall sequencing lacked timing with the route concepts. Because of the frequent uneven timing, Jurkovec’s base was erratic, which impacted the consistency of his ball placement. While he is successful outside of structure, finding more timing will better maximize his ability to produce and showcase more consistent results.

Jurkovec shared that he has been working on fundamentals this spring in hopes to deliver a greater level of efficiency as a passer in 2020.

“I want to see myself get better at rhythm throws,” said Jurkovec. “I want to see my completion rate in the 70s.”

Given Jurkovec’s newness to the complexities of Cignetti’s scheme and lack of time on the field since high school, expecting him to be firing on all cylinders right away is unreasonable. Hafley spoke to the challenges Jurkovec faced during his first season as the starter at Boston College.

“The guy hadn't played since his senior year in high school,” Hafley said. “He comes to a new team, doesn't know the team—harder than me, guys, and I'm the head coach trying to figure this out. Imagine you're the guy playing quarterback, guys from Clemson are trying to knock you out. I didn't have to get hit. Here this guy comes in really without a spring ball, training camp was kind of every other day we were practicing. So does he know the offense well enough to do it in his sleep? Probably not. He goes out and plays the way he did. That's why I'm so excited about him, how hard he works, the leadership, the confidence. I'm really excited about it.”

The variables necessary for Jurkovec to take a massive step forward are evident. Between the scheme, returning players, and his own room for improvement, Jurkovec is among the most likely quarterbacks in college football to deliver a breakout season.

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