When it comes to NFL role models, a college draft prospect can do far worse than Green Bay Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari. The two-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro (a stat he will gladly remind you about) has become one of the finest left tackles in the sport, and is certainly one that a lot of young players look up to coming out of college.
It’s easy to forget, however, that Bakhtiari was just a fourth-round draft pick back in 2013, and that there were concerns initially that he might not even play tackle as a professional. Those questions surround Jack Driscoll, the Auburn Tigers’ former right tackle, who is trying to earn a selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and they help explain why he cites Bakhtiari as the NFL player he watches the most.
“(Bakhtiari) is someone I’ve tried to model part of my game after and look at what he does; he’s someone I’ve really enjoyed watching,” Driscoll said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. “We’re kind of a similar size. He’s really good with his hands and really quick out of his stance.”
As a player with shorter arms himself — they measured just 33 inches with a wingspan of 78-1/2 — Driscoll is often fielding questions about his future position in the NFL. “People have been saying some center, some guard, some tackle, but you know, I just believe that working with the coaches, where I’m training, that just repping it constantly that I can play any position.”
And that is part of the reason that Bakhtiari is a player Driscoll looks up to. Those similar questions that the Packers tackle faced coming out of college are “kind of why I started watching his game,” Driscoll says, adding “but he’s one of the best left tackles in the NFL.”
There is one significant difference, though, that Driscoll sees: their hairstyle. “No, I will say that’s probably the one thing (that’s different). I’m kind of a clean-cut, short-haired guy.”
A two year-starter at the University of Massachusetts, Driscoll earned his undergraduate degree in three years, freeing himself up to be a graduate transfer. That opened up a number of options for him, as he still retained two years of eligibility and did not need to sit out a year before playing at a new school. He eventually settled on Auburn, mentioning the level of play in the SEC West as a primary driver for his decision.
“I wanted to play at the highest level possible ... I wanted to prove to myself that I belonged with the best players in the country.”
And prove himself he did. Driscoll was an immediate starter when arriving on campus at his new school, installed on the right side of Gus Malzahn’s offense. The Connecticut native even made the transition to a drastically different scheme with no issues, moving from a pro-style offense at UMass to a spread system at Auburn. “At Auburn we were more inside zone and true power run, but I know any scheme I could succeed in.”
Driscoll has always been interested in playing in the NFL, a drive that came in part from his father John. An offensive linemen like his son, John attended the Combine in 1988 and was a 12th-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills. He passed his love of football on to his son, who now has a chance to do what John did not: play in an NFL game.
But in high school, that seemed unlikely. “My junior year I was a 205-pound offensive tackle,” Jack said. To put on weight, he turned to an old, reliable trick: the PB&J. “I ate a lot of peanut butter and jellys. For a while I couldn’t even smell them any more without being sick. I came in my freshman year at UMass at 240 and then by redshirt freshman year I was 295, so (I put on) about 50 pounds in the offseason.”
That takes work. And more sandwiches than one can count. “I’d eat breakfast, I’d pack two for class and throughout my day I’d eat them. I’d eat lunch and eat dinner and before bed I’d eat two or three and drink a bunch of protein shakes and stuff. A lot of people think ‘oh you get to gain weight, it’s fun!’ It’s not like I’m going to McDonald’s or Wendy’s. I’m trying to put on good weight so I can still move.
“Eating was like a full time job — it still is.”
Hopefully for Driscoll, his first real full-time job will be playing for an NFL team.