Former NFL lineman and Auburn offensive analyst Kendall Simmons thinks Prince Tega Wanogho has the potential to be a great starting offensive tackle in the NFL.
It’s just going to take some time.
“I do think he can be a starter,” Simmons said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last week.
The Eagles drafted Tega Wanogho in the sixth round last month after many thought he would go significantly earlier. But a knee injury and subsequent surgery scared many teams off. Simmons, who coached Tega Wanogho and fourth-round pick Jack Driscoll, said the only thing that worries him about Tega Wanogho is his health.
But if Tega Wanogho can get past this knee injury, Simmons thinks the rookie can grow into a starter at the NFL level.
I think Prince will be a good starting tackle in the league and he has the athletic ability,” Simmons said. “He’s more athletic than Jack (Driscoll). Jack right now is a helluva lot better player right now than he is. That’s just truthful. And Tega knows that.
“Tega has the ability to be awesome. He just has to get over the health thing and turn his motor on. And decide that this is what I want and I’m gonna stay here until they kick me out the league. He has the ability to be that good. He just has to want to be that good.
Tega Wanogho, 22, has an incredible backstory that Simmons thinks he can continue to use for motivation. He grew up in Nigeria and flew by himself across the Atlantic Ocean with a backpack and $20 in his pocket.
Because Tega Wanogho didn’t begin playing football until his arrival in the United States in 2014, he simply doesn’t have the football experience many rookies already have.
Even after starting three years in the SEC, Tega Wanogho is still catching up to his peers in terms of basic football experience, even if he doesn’t see it that way.
“I don't see myself like that,” Tega Wanogho said shortly after getting drafted. “I don't feel like I'm actually catching up to them. I'm a guy who's going to come in there and actually work hard. Obviously like if it means so much to you, you'll find a way. I'm a guy who will always find a way, and I take pride in whatever I do. Doesn't really matter what it is. I take pride in it.”
But during his short time with Tega Wanogho, Simmons said what he worked on most with him was his ability to anticipate things before the snap. They worked on film study and always having a plan.
Simmons, 41, was drafted out of Auburn in the first round of the 2002 draft and was a starting guard in the NFL for seven seasons.
“Coach Kendall came in and showed us a little bit of tendency, what to expect, how to read defenses, and just little things like that,” Tega Wanogho said at the combine. “And that actually did help. It did help a lot."
Those are the types of things that might be second nature to guys who grew up playing the sport but they’re things Tega Wanogho still needs to work on as he enters the NFL. The good news is that with the Eagles, Tega Wanogho will play for Jeff Stoutland, who is widely considered to be one of the better offensive line coaches in the league.
It’s Stoutland’s job to help the talented rookie realize his potential.
“He has to grind and get it, but the (offensive line) coach will have to be very patient with him and teach him,” Simmons said. “Because he wants to learn and he’ll do it. Tega has the ability and he can adapt as well, but he doesn’t have the football knowledge that Jack does. He doesn’t have much football experience under his belt and he’s really still learning to play tackle.”
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