Career Recap: Considering what Wright has done in his first two seasons of college football, it is shocking that he wasn't a superstar recruit coming out of high school. Wright is from Northern California, yet he wasn't recruited by the in-state schools like USC, UCLA, Stanford and California. He also was missed by other close competition like Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State. Arizona was the first school to offer him a scholarship, which Wright quickly accepted. It became clear from his true freshman season that the other Pac-12 schools made a big mistake by not going for this play-maker.
Wright had 83 tackles with 9.5 for a loss and an interception in 2013, his debut season. He went on to take college football by storm in 2014. The sophomore was a pass-rushing force for the Wildcats and one of the top defenders in the Pac-12. Wright notched 14 sacks with 163 tackles, 29 tackles for a loss and six forced fumbles on the year. He had a huge game against Oregon to help lead the Wildcats to a regular-season upset of the Ducks as he harassed Marcus Mariota all night. Wright was the Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year after last season, plus won the Bronco Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award and the Chuck Bednarik Award.
2015 Season Outlook: Arizona should be in the thick of the race to go back to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Wright will see a nice test early in the season with Stanford. The Cardinal has featured a physical rushing attack for years, so that will provide a good test for Wright to show that he can handle some downhill smash-mouth running.
Arizona will see some other good tests in early November. In the first weekend of that month, USC and quarterback Cody Kessler will host Wright. The Wildcats will need Wright to get after Kessler to limit the Trojans' passing attack. A week later against Utah, Wright will go against perhaps the best running back he'll face all season in the Utes' Devontae Booker. If Wright has big games against these opponents, that could be huge for his draft stock.
Skill-Set Summary: Wright enters his junior season as a versatile linebacker who can play on the inside and the outside yet rush the quarterback off the line of scrimmage. He played outside linebacker as a freshman before moving to the middle as a sophomore. Arizona has played a lot of 3-3-5 sets in passing situations and moved Wright around to get him in position to pressure the quarterback.
When watching Wright, the positive that sticks out the most is his tremendous instinctiveness. The linebacker position in the NFL is all about making plays via instincts, and Wright clearly has that. He is quick to read his keys and flow to ball-carriers to make tackles. Wright is very fast to fire his gun and make tackles downhill along with chasing in pursuit. As a run-defender, Wright is very valuable.
As a tackler though, Wright could stand to improve on wrapping up ball-carriers rather than going for the knockout blow. He also could stand to strengthen his lower body to hold his ground when runs come straight at him. Considering Wright is a true junior, it is understandable that he could use some work to develop his body, but he has plenty of time to do it.
Wright is an absolute force when it come to the pass rush. He times his pass rush extremely well with a fast get-off. Wright uses speed to move around blockers, and they have a hard time of getting their hands on him. He closes on the signal-caller in an instant and has displayed an array of pass-rushing moves. Wright impressively uses a spin move and rip move that is more developed than most college pass-rushers. He is always cognizant to go for the strip-sack and is extremely dangerous when he gets close to the quarterback.
Arizona can't afford to not have Wright rush the quarterback, but as a junior, NFL scouts will want to see how Wright handles himself dropping into pass coverage.
For the NFL, Wright looks like a great fit in a 3-4 defense that will move him around. He could play on the inside in running situations and rush the quarterback from the edge on passing downs. In a 4-3 defense, Wright could be used similar to Von Miller, play as a traditional middle linebacker or play as a Sam (strongside) linebacker who often is rushing after the quarterback.
2016 NFL Draft Expectations: This analyst feels that Wright has the potential to be a first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.