The 2021 NFL Draft is full of tall, long, athletic cornerbacks. And we haven’t even talked about one of the biggest ones. Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright is an outlier in the NFL Draft, but he brings an intriguing experimental skill set that might just work, in the right situation. Let’s break down Wright’s traits, his draft projection, and his avenues to success in the NFL.
Nahshon Wright NFL Draft Profile
- Height: 6’4 1/4″
- Weight: 183 pounds
- Position: Cornerback
- School: Oregon State
- Current Year: Junior
Tony Pauline’s Nahshon Wright Scouting Report
Positives: Junior-college transfer who started the past two seasons for Oregon State. Tall, thin cornerback who flashes ball skills. Instinctive, quick to read and diagnose, and effectively times his pass defenses. Fluid flipping his hips off the line, displays solid footwork in reverse, and has a nice break to the pass.
Tracks the ball in the air, quickly closes to the action, and possesses a burst of speed. Efficient, takes proper angles, and stays with assignments. Gives effort up the field on the blitz or defending the run.
Negatives: Has a thin build, struggles with physical receivers, and loses out in battles. Shows a little hesitation reacting to receivers’ moves off the line.
Analysis: Wright was a consistent cornerback at Oregon State and showed progress in his game the past three seasons. He possesses size, growth potential, and enough cover skills to play at the next level, but he must improve his playing strength. He’s a Day 3 pick who could initially line up in dime packages as a rookie.
Nahshon Wright Player Profile
Every path to the NFL is different. Often, the longer or more arduous a path is, the greater resilience a player shows when the pressure rises. All players experience adversity when seeking out a professional career in football, but Nahshon Wright’s path was particularly occluded early on.
Before his collegiate career, Wright was an athlete from Union City, California, playing at James Logan High School. Wright played wide receiver and cornerback, and was already taller than most at his position by his senior year. However, despite his height and length, Wright had trouble gaining buzz on the recruiting trail, and was an unranked recruit on most boards. He ended up having to take the junior college route, signing with Laney Junior College in Oakland.
Wright didn’t let the lack of Power Five offers dissuade him from his goal. Instead, it fueled him to make the most out of his JUCO opportunity. In his 2018 season with Laney Junior College, Wright starred, amassing 17 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, and 3 pass deflections. His production earned him prestige as a JUCO transfer, and he chose Oregon State over Boise State, San Jose State, and Hawaii.
Nahshon Wright’s college football career at Oregon State
Coming onto the Power Five scene as a JUCO sophomore, Nahshon Wright didn’t miss a beat. The long, lanky Oregon State cornerback quickly factored into the team’s equation on defense. By the end of the 2019 season, he had played in 12 games and started 10 of those contests. Over that span, he logged 34 tackles, a half tackle for loss, 3 interceptions, and 1 pass deflection.
The 2020 season cast a shadow over Wright’s junior campaign, but Wright pushed through and ended up having a stellar season in spite of the uncertainty. Wright played in six games and drastically increased his rate of production. Over that six-game stretch, Wright registered 30 tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, 1.0 sack, 2 interceptions, 4 pass deflections, and a forced fumble.
Once an afterthought on the recruiting trail, Wright distinguished himself as one of the best defensive backs in his conference. He was given All-Pac-12 honorable mention honors, and he punctuated his career year with a draft declaration, setting his sights on the 2021 NFL Draft.
Nahshon Wright’s best fits in the 2021 NFL Draft
Nahshon Wright is a fun player to evaluate. He has a lot of the qualities one would expect from a player with his frame, but he’s also more mobile than expected. His weight may play a hand in his mobility. Wright is noticeably undersized for his length, as Tony mentions above. While he uses his length well, he can’t always come up victorious against stronger, more physical receivers.
Luckily for Wright, his length provides a baseline trait for him to build off of, and his fluid movement skills provide him with modest scheme versatility. Wright has the instincts and reaction quickness to make plays in zone alignments, but his burst and smooth hips also give him upside in off-man situations. As mentioned above, he’ll have to get more physical in press, but on Day 3, Wright has potential.
Where can Nahshon Wright thrive?
NFL teams tend to be hesitant when investing resources in taller cornerbacks, and there’s a reason for that. Taller cornerbacks are often less fluid, and can’t always stick to receivers in coverage. However, Wright offers enough of a length-athleticism combination to earn interest.
The Oregon State cornerback has flashed in Cover 3 alignments, which would make him an especially good developmental fit for teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Indianapolis Colts late. But other teams like the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and San Francisco 49ers, could also present matches.
Nahshon Wright is more of a projection than most in the NFL Draft. He has to add weight, and when he does, questions will persist about his remaining athletic capacity. Will he have the same explosiveness and fluidity? Will he still be versatile? Ultimately, with the disruption potential that his length already provides, that’s an investment that’s easy to make with a late-round pick.
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