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Most NFL prospects use the months between the end of their college seasons and the NFL draft to hone their skills and train for combined events like the 40-yard dash and the three-cone drills.

Jack Driscoll used this time to learn a new position.

The Eagles’ fourth round pick at Auburn already had some versatility, starting in the right tackle for the Tigers and previously playing a left guard at UMass. But then he added more. On the advice of his university coaches, Driscoll added center to his resume.

“I just told him that when you are at home and you have nothing to do, you have to take the ball and break it, start working on the catch,” said offensive analyst Auburn and former player. NFL offensive lineup Kendall Simmons at NBC Sports. Philidelphia last week.

Driscoll listened.

Auburn was one of the few schools to sneak into their work day before they were all closed due to COVID-19 and that’s a good thing. Because while Driscoll stood on his very impressive combine numbers – he ran a 5.02 in the 40! – he took advantage of the professional day of March 6 to perform positioning exercises.

And, yes, he showed his new skill.

“When I saw him on pro day, he took the ball, it felt so natural,” said Simmons. “I’m not telling you this just to inflate it: it was incredible for me to watch him do it because it didn’t seem embarrassing. It didn’t seem like he had ever done it before. His photos were accurate. It clicked and pulled, it moved. I was like, “Dang, Jack! You work, huh? »»

Yes, he had worked there. Driscoll was proud of what he had accomplished in just a few months. Even though he never plays in the center of the NFL, he understands that adding an extra ounce of value would not detract from his quest to be drafted.

The Eagles are a team that has always appreciated the versatility of its offensive linemen. In fact, it’s almost mandatory for their reserve line players.

“I wanted to create as much value as possible and show a team that I am worthy of one of their draft picks,” said Driscoll shortly after the Eagles drafted him. “This is why I said that I worked very hard on the central position and the clicks and that I made sure to get them down well.”

Now on the coaching staff at Auburn, Simmons has had an eight-year career in the NFL and has friends who are NFL scouts. He approached them about Driscoll and while the scouts thought Driscoll could play tackle in the NFL, they projected him as a long-range indoor lineman. Armed with this information, Simmons brought it to Driscoll knowing that the plan of hope would do it in the right direction.

Driscoll’s ability to adapt and his penchant for absorbing information and advice from his coaches is something that Simmons says is special about the Eagles rookie. Simmons said he had never known a young player like Driscoll before joining the Auburn team.

“He soaked it like a sponge,” said Simmons. “I knew I could tell that to Jack and he was not going to be quiet or arrogant about it,” oh that’s who I am. “Jack wants to succeed in life, period. So whatever it costs him at that point, he will do whatever it takes to succeed. That’s why he’s one of those guys, if he can stay healthy, he’ll play a long time because of his ability to adapt. “

When the Eagles drafted Driscoll (6-5, 306), they put him on tackle, so that’s probably where he will start his NFL career, at the position where he has the most experience. But like many league reviewers, Simmons believes that, ultimately, Driscoll will find himself as an inside lineman in the long run.

Simmons was the 30th overall pick in the 2002 draft and after playing tackle at Auburn, he became an NFL starter in the right guard. He started a total of 90 straight guard games from 2002 to 2009, including Super Bowl XL, when the Steelers defeated the Seahawks 21-10. Simmons therefore shares his story of versatility with his players, including Driscoll.

Some players don’t want to hear it. They stubbornly think they are good enough in the position they are already playing and choose to ignore the wise advice.

Others learn a new job in a matter of months.

“He’s that guy,” said Simmons. “That’s what you have right now. I honestly think that if [Driscoll] remains in good health, he will be a very valuable lineman for a long time. “

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