Darnell Wright Draft Profile
Every scout has a type; they value certain traits over other based off of how they were trained and what they have seen be successful. For offensive linemen I obsess over bend and the ability to move in space. While those are two traits that I favor, those are not the reasons why I love Tennessee offensive tackle, Darnell Wright. A four-year starter in the SEC, Wright elevates his game against the best defensive linemen in college football. Against Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson, Wright shut down: Will Anderson, Jalen Carter, and Bryan Breese in their one-on-one matchups. While he does not fit in the typical mold of an offensive lineman crush of mine, he absolutely is one.
I do not like to compare NFL Draft prospects to inanimate objects, but watching defensive linemen try to bull rush Darnell Wright is like watching someone run into a brick wall. For most offensive linemen, the ability to anchor goes hand in hand with the ability to sink their hips and control power rushes. However, Wright’s ability to anchor has more to due with his brute strength. He keeps a wide base that allows him to catch rushers who convert speed to power. Having played in the SEC, Wright has gone up against the best defensive linemen in college football. According to Pro Football Focus, Wright gave up zero sacks this year and just seven hurries. On those seven hurries, none were from bullrushes or speed to power moves. Teams trust Wright to protect their quarterback’s strong side and form a pocket for him to sit in. As a run-blocker, Wright gets powerful knock back off the line of scrimmage when down-blocking. Tennessee ran a gap-scheme with a lot of run-pass options, so there was not a ton of tape of him moving in space. While he was not asked to move downhill or laterally too often, Wright demonstrated the ability to win the defender’s hip on a down block. Wright is not afraid to get his face dirty and lower his helmet. There is a certain level of violence that offensive linemen need in order to play the position; Wright is fearless when it comes to delivering blows. Mentally, Wright does not get down on himself and has shown the ability to recover. In football, having short-term memory is important; he doesn’t get too hung up on bad plays. I believe Wright is the best pass protector in this year’s draft; there is a comfort level for drafting a player like him because of his reliability in pass protection.
The biggest question mark as it pertains to Darnell Wright is his ability to move in space and change directions. Wright struggles with sinking his hips which causes him to waist bend and lean on guys rather than controlling them. Bend is an attribute most people look for in defensive linemen, but it is arguably just as important for offensive linemen. Wright’s inability to bend is a major cause for concern and limits the scheme fits. When it comes to using his hands, Wright is more of a clamper than a striker. He consistently loses the hand battle, but his strength and wide base prevents him from getting pushed back. While he tends to get outside hand placement, Wright has shown the ability to chop defensive linemen’s arms and regain leverage. Wright’s biggest struggles in the pass game came with rushers who can bend the corner and when having to handle stunts. His inability to pass off stunts causes major concern in regards to his intelligence. I am not sure if it has to do with his coaching or mental make up, but teams will have to look into that. While I love the power and strength that comes with Darnell Wright, he does not fit every team schematically.
As much as I enjoy watching Wright as a pass protector, his success depends on how he matures in the run game. A lot of the question marks have more to do with how he was used schematically at Tennessee rather than his own ability. For the Volunteers, Wright was not asked to seal on outside zone and get proper hat placement. I thought he had a good showing at his combine, but teams will need to experiment a lot during his pre-draft workouts. When it comes to a pro-comparison, I wanted to find the closest thing to an immovable object, so I chose Jason Peters. He is not as talented of an athlete as Peters, but the trust that quarterbacks have in them are similar. I would like to see him in a place like Washington where Eric Bieniemy’s offense is centered around the passing game and their base run is a gap-scheme. Tampa Bay and Las Vegas would also be two good locations for him where he can benefit from playing on the other side of two bookend left tackles. I believe Wright is the best pass protector in this year’s draft which is why I have a top 20 grade on him, but his limitations in space may prevent him from going top 20. Wright is going to have the chance to play in this league for a long time, but there are definitely caveats to his game.
Feet + COD: 10/12
Movement Ability in Space + Bend: 8.5/12
Strain + Seal + Strength: 9.5/10
Anchor + Sink: 9/10
Football IQ: 7.25/10
Mentality + Violence: 8.75/10
Point of Contact + Punch: 7/8
Recover + Poise: 7.5/8
Patience + Hands: 4.75/6
Final Rating: 82
Pro Comparison: Jason Peters with less bend
Team Fits: Commanders, Buccaneers, Raiders
Draft Projection: First Round Pick
Draft Grade: Top 20 Player