Auburn Offensive Tackles Poised for Big Season

08/05/2019
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After a 2017 season that featured dethroning the No.1 team in the land on two different occasions (Georgia and Alabama) and finding themselves in Atlanta as SEC West champions, Auburn’s expectations were set high entering 2018 despite the upcoming personnel losses. Those losses included All-SEC running back and second-round pick Kerryon Johnson and four starting offensive linemen.

With only left guard Marquel Harrell returning as the full-time starter on the line, Auburn had to retool its entire unit. Searching for the bookends to solidify the unit is not something that any coach wants to figure out, especially when he has an NFL quarterback in the backfield.

Even with the new wave of starters, the left tackle spot was all but official as Prince Tega Wanogho eyed his second opportunity to lock down that side of the ball. After starting the first four games in 2017, Wanogho lost his job midway through the season, as he looked overwhelmed in his first handful of games. He put together three more starts at left tackle that season.

Though some struggles were apparent in 2017, optimism described Wanogho’s preseason buzz entering the 2018 opener versus a strong Washington defensive line.

With the coaching staff knowing what it had in Wanogho, it was not certain what was to be at right tackle. Described as an athletic freak by then quarterback Jarrett Stidham, Jack Driscoll stepped into the starting right tackle role after transferring from UMass. Driscoll brought over 20 starts to The Plains and strung together 13 more for the Tigers in 2018.

The duo started every game last season.

According to Pro Football Focus, Wanogho surrendered only two sacks and scored an 89.6 pass blocking grade to lead all SEC tackles last season (Jonah Williams, Alabama: 88.6). Wanogho’s overall marking was 80.8. Driscoll also put together an admirable 2018 season, finishing with an 86.7 pass blocking grade in 726 snaps.

However, both have some work to do in the run game, and Wanogho will be the first person to tell you that.

“Right now, I got to keep working on everything,” Wanogho told reporters this spring. “[In the] run game, I have to keep working on staying low and my hand placement. Coach (JB Grimes, Auburn offensive line coach) complains about my hands a lot. I’ve been taking taekwondo classes to help with my hands and coordination. It’s paying off.”

Despite earning a low score from PFF (69.7) in the run game as well, Driscoll does not struggle with his upper body movements or body leverage like Wanogho. And his position coach appreciates his body of work.

“Jack Driscoll will have a great opportunity (to play in the NFL),” Grimes said this spring. “He’s just an extremely smart guy and he’s a really, really good technician.”

Driscoll’s technical play starts with his balance in pass protection. Driscoll (6-foot-5, 296 pounds) displays the appropriate weight distribution to mitigate any bull rush or quick movements from the defender. The senior right tackle has adequate food speed partnered with the ability to anchor and sustain contact, even in a lateral setting.

Driscoll’s foot speed is on full display when executing his kick slide. The right tackle prospect gains more than enough ground with light feet to keep the pocket clean for his quarterback. Not falling victim to an initial false step, Driscoll does an excellent job of reading the defender’s path and countering. His symmetrical movements of striking with an accurate punch and keeping his lower half on par augments his ability to keep the pocket clean.

Driscoll’s biggest asset is his hand distribution. He does an excellent job of repositioning his hands throughout the play to make sure he stays balanced and square to his opponent. He shows a nice blend of repositioning his hands and moving his lower body to regain the leverage he once had.

At 6-foot-7 and 305 pounds, there is no questioning Wanogho has the mass and length to meet NFL standards. His length shows in pass sets, as his long limbs can instantly pick up oncoming traffic with a simple strike, stopping defenders in their tracks or redirecting their path. When executing proper hand placement, Wanogho’s elite-level upper body strength is on display with overwhelming power.

Wanogho represented Auburn at SEC Media Days along with teammates Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. (Wade Rackley // Auburn Athletics)

With a brawny upper body, the Nigerian native has mirroring power in his lower frame. Despite not getting as low as his position coach would like, Wanogho still has the anchor to work in the sand and withstand contact.

A characteristic of both tackle prospects, Wanogho shows off an attractive pair of feet to catch defenders on the edge while also showing the ability to quickly change directions. Before his All-SEC status, Wanogho made the transition from defensive line to offensive line in 2016, so his athleticism doesn’t come as too much of a surprise.

Coming into last season with some uncertainty as to who would solidify the bookends for Stidham, Driscoll and Wanogho now make up one of the best tackle duos in college football.

“We all got the experience,” Wanogho says. “We’ve got a chance. That’s one of the big reasons I came back, because we got all five starters back and that way we can actually fight for something – and that’s the championship.”

Christian Page is a scout and writer for Cover1.net. His scouting experience dates back to 2015. Christian has a background of radio along with collegiate athletic department experience and corporate marketing.

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