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The focus for the Dallas Cowboys coming into the 2021 NFL draft was improve their defense. The team’s first four picks were all on the defensive side of the ball and they went back with their last selection in the third round.
With the No. 99 pick the Cowboys selected Nahshon Wright, cornerback from Oregon State. It was a pick that had draft nerds scouring their notebooks to find out who Wright was and what made the club select him so far above what most of his projections were.
Dallas had needs at the position and Wright became the second CB picked by the franchise on Day 2 of the draft. Despite other, more well regarded CB prospects on the board, the decision makers for the Cowboys felt Wright was a better fit. Standing at 6-foot-4 and with a near 33-inch wingspan, Wright fits the profile of what new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had in his corners at Seattle.
Nahshon Wright is one of my guys!
Had him in the 4th, but he’s my sleeper CB of this draft. Huge upside. 6’4 corner with 33” arms and 4.4 speed.
— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) May 1, 2021
Apologies for being a bad scout and not having seen Nahshon Wright for you guys before tonight but he's not a bad player. Good help defender, nice in press vs outside releases, length plays, physical, chippy, confident. Think he belonged in the 3-4 range.
— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) May 1, 2021
However, the feeling is that Dallas could’ve gotten Wright much later in the draft. The Cowboys came into the night with one solid starting CB in Trevon Diggs and adding Wright adds depth at the position, but it comes after using the No. 44 pick on Kentucky corner Kelvin Joseph.
Wright bounced around to begin his college career before finding his way to the Beavers. Playing just 18 games in his collegiate career, Wright led the team in interceptions and passes defensed during his two seasons.
The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler describes Wright as “long and lanky athlete who is still developing his instinct and techniques.”
Wright feels like a bit of a project for the Cowboys, but the upside might have been too good to pass up. It’s also difficult to see where Wright fits in. Dallas has Diggs, veterans Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis, as well as last year’s fourth-round selection Reggie Robinson II and Joseph. Wright will need to make quite an impression to push for playing time in the secondary.
The Cowboys used a premium draft pick on Wright, so they must be excited about his ability and how they can develop him. Wright’s best football is ahead of him and the hope is the Cowboys can harness that size that cannot be taught, into a solid cornerback.
If they’re right, the Cowboys will have the last laugh in selecting Wright. Time will tell.
From Dane Brugler, The Athletic
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Oregon State, Wright lined up at field cornerback in defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar’s scheme. He had a winding journey between high school and Oregon State, but he made the most of his two seasons in Corvallis, landing a starting role and leading the team in interceptions both years. Wright isn’t a quick-twitch mover, but he stays light on his feet to slide, open and run downfield with receivers. He is still relatively new to the cornerback position and it shows at times as he struggles to stay square or ahead of receivers. Overall, Wright is a long and lanky athlete who is still developing his instincts and technique, but his length and ball skills are interesting foundational traits for a classic press-man corner prospect. GRADE: 7th Round-Priority Free Agent
From Lance Zeirlein, NFL.com
Lanky, angular cornerback with good length but bad speed. Wright possesses above-average instincts and shows some ability to squat, burst and smother shorter routes from off coverage, but he will need help over the top because his recovery speed is lacking. He doesn’t have the instant acceleration or agility to stay connected to NFL route runners, which will limit his scheme fits. His length and play traits could make him a target for Cover 3 defenses who care less about long speed and more about ball skills.
From Pro Football Focus
From Pro Football Focus’ 2021 NFL Draft Guide | https://www.pff.com/draft/guide
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