Eagles

Jack Driscoll’s quest for versatility taught the Eagles’ rookie a new position

Jack Driscoll’s quest for versatility taught the Eagles’ rookie a new position

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

Jack Driscoll used that time to learn a new position. 

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

“I just told him when you’re at home and you ain’t got nothing to do, you gotta get the ball and snap it, start working on snapping,” Auburn offensive analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Kendall Simmons said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last week. 

Driscoll listened. 

Auburn was one of just a few schools to sneak in their pro day before they were all shut down because of the COVID-19 and it’s a good thing. Because while Driscoll stood on his very impressive numbers from the combine — he ran a 5.02 in the 40! — he used the March 6 pro day to do position drills. 

And, yes, he showed off his new skill.

“When I saw him at the pro day snapping the ball, it looked so natural to him,” Simmons said. “I’m not telling you this just to pump him up: it was amazing to me to watch him do it because it didn’t look awkward. It didn’t look like he hadn’t done it before. His snaps were right on point. He was snapping and pulling, he was moving. I was like, ‘Dang, Jack! You’ve been working, huh?’”

Yeah, he had been working on it. Driscoll was proud of what he accomplished in just a couple months. Even if he never plays center in the NFL, he understood that adding an ounce more of value wouldn’t hurt his quest to be drafted. 

The Eagles are a team that has historically valued versatility in their offensive linemen. In fact, it’s almost mandatory for their reserve linemen. 

“I wanted to create the most value I could and show a team that I'm worthy of one of their draft picks,” Driscoll said shortly after the Eagles drafted him. “That's why I said I worked really hard on the center position and snapping and just making sure I got it down.”

Now on the coaching staff at Auburn, Simmons had an eight-year NFL career and has some 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 an interior lineman long-term. Armed with that information, Simmons brought it to Driscoll knowing the draft hopeful would take it the right way. 

Driscoll’s ability to adapt and his penchant for soaking up information and advice from his coaches is something that Simmons said is special about the Eagles’ rookie. Simmons said he had never been around a young player like Driscoll before joining the Auburn staff. 

“He soaked it up like a sponge,” Simmons said. “I knew I could tell Jack that and he wasn’t going to turn his nose up or be arrogant about it, ‘oh this is who I am.’ Jack wants to be successful in life, period. So whatever it takes for him at that point at time, he’s going to do whatever he needs to do to be successful. That’s why he’s one of those guys, if he can stay healthy, he will play a long time because of his ability to adapt.”

When the Eagles drafted Driscoll (6-5, 306) they listed him as a tackle, so that’s probably where he’ll start his NFL career, at the position where he has the most experience. But like many evaluators in the league, Simmons thinks that, ultimately, Driscoll will end up as an interior lineman long-term. 

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

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

Others learn a new position in a couple months. 

“He’s that guy,” Simmons said. “That’s what y’all have right now. I honestly think if [Driscoll] stays healthy, he will be a very valuable lineman for a long time.” 

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

Eagles coaches 'never felt more safe' at NovaCare Complex

On Friday, two days before Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19, several of his assistant coaches spoke about how effective they believe the Eagles’ safety protocols are inside the NovaCare Complex and how safe they consider the facility.

The Eagles, under the direction of vice president of football operations and compliance Jon Ferrari, reconfigured the South Philadelphia facility over the last several weeks to comply with NFL safety measures once the players arrived.

On Monday, the Eagles' so-called IDER plan – that stands for Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan – was approved by the league, meaning the team's plan to deal with the virus in the facility met the safety standards required by the league and the players' association.

Yet here we are.

Without knowing how or where Pederson contracted the virus, it’s impossible to determine whether the safety measures are working. 

If nobody else in the building contracts it, they’re working. If it turns out there are additional positive tests within the building in the coming days, it’s possible that even the strictest adherence to the safety measures isn’t enough.

We’ll know more in the coming days, but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, running backs coach and assistant head coach (and interim head coach) Duce Staley and special teams coach Dave Fipp all spoke on Friday about how effective the measures the Eagles took to create a safe working environment appeared to be.

Stoutland: “Coming through the front door, going through the gate, getting tested each morning, I gotta tell you guys, I’ve never felt more safe in my life. I told my wife that, I told my kids that. Mr. (Jeff) Lurie, he cares about his team, his coaches, and just proves it once again with the group of people that he’s put together to organize this whole operation. It’s all different, it’s all new, (team president) Don Smolenski, Jon Ferrari, it’s unbelievable. Every little detail that’s going on right now, the door handles, everything that I notice, I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, they think of everything to keep us safe.’ That part of it is great I think for all of us because it kind of lets you (know), ‘OK, let me just focus on my job and detail what I have to do and the other stuff, we’re good. We’re going to be in good hands.’”

Staley: “We have to be careful, that’s something that all coaches are being redundant with. We’re talking with our players, we’re talking amongst ourselves. We’re all reminding each other how serious this is, reminding ourselves as coaches and reminding the players. This is a different time for us and as a team we must make the adjustments so we can be successful down the road. We must make the adjustments. I think the Eagles, this organization, Howie, Jeffery, along with Jon Ferrari, they’ve got a great plan here for us while we’re in the building, so we feel 100 percent safe in the building. Now, we understand everything going on, how it can be contracted, but we feel safe.”

Fipp: “I think common sense is the biggest thing. Gotta be smart, obviously. There’s definitely an issue going on out there. I think we feel good about it as long as we wear masks and take care of our responsibility outside the building. I feel great about being inside the building.”

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson tests positive for COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has tested positive for COVID-19, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. 

Pederson, 52, is asymptomatic and is feeling well at this time, the source said. 

ESPN’s Tim McManus first reported that Pederson informed his players on Sunday night after a second positive test. 

The Eagles later released the following statement: 

Most of the Eagles' meetings are still virtual and Pederson will be able to lead them. But assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley will handle any head coaching responsibilities in the building while Pederson is away, according to a source. Pederson will have to follow the NFL's protocols before returning to the NovaCare Complex. 

Pederson is the second known NFL head coach to test positive for COVID-19 after Saints’ head coach Sean Payton had it in March. 

Just last week, Pederson said he felt “extremely safe” inside the NovaCare Complex. 

“Obviously, coming into it there might have been some skepticism about the testing and the screenings that go on, but it’s very thorough,” Pederson said to reporters on a Zoom call last week. “When you’re here and you get tested in the morning, you’ve got a screening process that you have to go through to get into the building, wearing masks in the building, everywhere we go, I feel extremely safe.”

According to ESPN, it is believed Pederson contracted the coronavirus outside of the NovaCare Complex. ESPN also reported that QBs coach/pass game coordinator Press Taylor, who was in close contact with Pederson, was also sent home. He has tested negative but will follow protocol before returning. 

Last week, the Eagles placed three players — Lane Johnson, Jordan Mailata and Nathan Gerry — on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. The Reserve/COVID-19 list is for players who either test positive or who have been exposed to someone who has. Johnson later announced that he tested positive. 

In addition to the three players put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, the Eagles also had one player opt out already. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin opted out of the season because of family reasons. 

After testing positive, Pederson will obviously miss some time at the facility. Pederson last Monday stressed the need for contingency plans, not just for players, but for coaches too. 

“We have to have a plan for everything as you know,” he said. “One of the things that we've been faced with, and I think we've done a really good job here is we've overcome some of the injuries we've had the last couple of seasons. We've coached that next guy, or that next player has been able to go in and perform at a high level, but now I think that has to carry over to the coaching staff as you mentioned.

“I think there has to be a plan in place for any coach or any staff member that may miss a couple days or a couple weeks because of the virus.

“So those are all things that are running through my mind. Again, we are in a different environment and we all have to do our part to protect ourselves, protect our players and our families and hopefully we minimize any setbacks.”

Subscribe and rate the Eagle Eye podcast: 

Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Spotify / Art19



Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles