The Philadelphia Eagles selected offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho with pick No. 210 in the 2020 NFL Draft. In order to learn more about him, I reached out to SB Nation’s Auburn blog: College and Magnolia. Tigers writer AUNerd was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you recap his college career?
His path was not the usual one. Grew up in Nigeria and actually wanted to be a basketball player when he came to the US in high school but was convinced to give football a try. Quickly became a top 150 recruit with offers from everyone imaginable. Auburn signed him initially as a DE but he actually broke his leg the spring of his senior year in high school and so redshirted his freshman season to rehab. Then he moved to OL the next year where he worked as a reserve before getting his first shot as a starter in 2017 as a sophomore. It, uh, didn’t go great.... He got absolutely abused by Clemson’s DL and ended up losing his job the rest of the year. However, he took over as the LT again in 2018 and was the starter there for every game over the next 2 years sans Kent State (resting the knee).
2) What are his strengths?
First off, he’s a freak athlete. Dude is massive but moves extremely well despite the size. You can’t coach his athleticism. He’s also strong and can deliver a nasty punch. I love his competitiveness as well. He’s going to play to the whistle and once he gets his big paws on a defender, can drive them out of the play. There are some wow moments when everything is clicking for him and he’s been battle tested against some of the best competition at the collegiate level.
He’s also developed so quickly so fast. Go back and watch the Clemson tape in 2017 and you might question whether this kid can every play SEC football. Then just a year later he’s one of the highest graded tackles in the conference. From a tools perspective, he’s a 1st round talent. It’s just about consistently putting it all together every rep and learning how to deploy all those skills effectively.
3) What are his weaknesses?
His lack of experience is the biggest. He’s not a technician. Hand placement can be all over the place at times and you will often see him get impatient and reach. He’s also sometimes slow out of his stance but he’s so damn quick that it hasn’t hurt him a ton the past 2 seasons but could be a problem at the next level. Basically, he’s exactly what you would expect to see from someone with incredible physical gifts trying to learn in the heat of battle how to play a very complicated position. He’s going to need some time before he’s ready to see meaningful snaps in the NFL.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
I was shocked he fell so far. I thought he might sneak into the late 2nd but fully expected him off the board by the end of the 3rd. My guess is that teams are concerned about the knee which he injured in preseason camp and played on all season. It got flagged at the Senior Bowl and he couldn’t participate. Also missed the NFL Combine. Then you throw in the [COVID-19] shutdowns so he can’t meet with teams and be evaluated in person, I guess it makes sense he slid. But honestly, I think ya’ll got a Day 3 steal. His upside is tremendous.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
I am fascinated to see what happens with Tega because it could go in so many ways. I could both seem him developing into an All-Pro left tackle or being out of the league in four years. He’s still so new to the position but has come so far so fast that it’s hard not to see him have some sort of success at the next level. I don’t think see him being an instant impact player as a rookie but my guess is he finds a way onto the field pretty soon after. It’s all about staying healthy and putting those elite tools together for him.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
If you haven’t read his backstory, I highly recommend it. He’s been a fan favorite pretty quickly since signing. In fact, when Auburn was recruiting him they found out that he LOVED Auburn’s mascot Aubie. He apparently would spend a lot of time while on visits to games watching the mascot instead of the game. So when he showed up for his official visit, Auburn decided the two people that should greet him would be head coach Gus Malzahn and Aubie. Pretty much sealed the deal for the Tigers.
He also likes to mess with people’s preconceived notions of what it must be like living in Africa. He told teammates and media members that he had a pet giraffe named Bobo just to mess with folks. Best case scenario the Eagles got an All-Pro LT in the 6th round. Worst case, they got an incredibly likeable teammate who will have a positive impact on the locker room and community.
BLG’s take: It’s hard not to get excited about PTW’s upside after reading these responses. If Jeff Stoutland can successfully develop him, he could at least be a good Halapoulivaati Vaitai replacement as the top swing tackle for this team. PTW might eventually become a future starter if Andre Dillard proves to be a bust or Lane Johnson retires down the road. Of course, PTW’s injury situation shouldn’t be dismissed as a non-factor with it causing him to fall so far in the draft. The Eagles might be wise to redshirt him as a rookie and get him fully healthy to move forward with the rest of his career.
Athletic testing not available due to injury: