To say the least, Tennessee mammoth offensive tackle Darnell Wright is a very polarizing player in this year’s draft. Some are high on him, while others think he’s lazy and full of himself. Bob McGinn’s scouting journal outlined Wright as a prototype boom-or-bust prospect.
“Another 5-star recruit, this time from Huntington, W. Va. “He is a talented underachiever,” said one scout. “Not great football character. You can hit on him. If he has an epiphany and becomes a pro, he’s got a shitload of talent.”
That’s the thing with Wright that has been circling around a lot. He has to mature and become a pro. That certainly could come in time, but it doesn’t appear that he’s at that stage now. Earlier this month, Wright went off on Cincinnati Bengals podcaster/blogger Willie Lutz for tweeting that he “is a pure RT and has no business playing LT.” Not really outlandish stuff, pretty much opinions you see on Twitter every day during draft season. However, Wright took offense and direct messaged Lutz a derogatory remark and asked what year did you play to say anybody has any business doing anything?”
To Wright’s credit, though, he did apologize to Lutz and admitted that he was out of line for the insult. It appears that Wright came to his senses that he was being overly defensive. But that’s the kind of player that Wright describes himself as. “No choir boys over here, I wear my emotions on my sleeve, which is good and obviously bad,” Wright told Lutz.
Wright is certainly not a choir boy on the field, as he plays with an edge and is downright nasty. With his 6-foot-5, 335-pound frame, he’s naturally a punishing run-blocker. That’s why he’s projected as more of a right tackle. He also completely shutdown edge rushers Bj Ojuari of LSU and Will Anderson Jr. of Alabama in back-to-back weeks this past season at right tackle. Ojuari could possibly get selected late in the first round and Anderson is a consensus top-5 pick.
“There’s a lot of entitlement with this kid but he did shut out (Alabama’s) Will Anderson,” another scout said in McGinn’s scouting journal. “Absolutely. If you want to like him that’s the tape you point to and say, ‘This guy’s a starting left or right tackle. Case closed. But when you dig into it, he never was much of a worker. Barely does enough to get by. Not super cooperative. Hard work is not in his vocabulary. Just does enough … But he has absolutely helped himself. Had a good Senior Bowl. Had a good Combine. He’s probably been clean enough in the interviews that somebody would say, ‘Hey, we’ll work with him.’ I think he could flame out pretty quick because he’s not a worker. It might not be as easy as he thinks it’s going to be in the league. So-so arm length (33 3/4), tiny hands (9).”
The Pittsburgh Steelers had Wright in for a pre-draft visit on Tuesday. He has also been linked to the Steelers in several mock drafts. With being widely considered the fourth-best offensive tackle in this year’s draft, No. 17 overall seems like a sweet spot for Wright’s draft range. Or he might drop further if teams are turned off by some of the red flags that scouts suggest.
One thing is for sure, Mike Tomlin has dealt with players who are not “choir boys” durning his tenure in Pittsburgh. Most notably Antonio Brown, who was obviously a great player, but also very toxic. That’s why Peter King probably suggested that Tomlin would be a good fit for Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter. And it’s not like Wright is the first or last prospect to have questionable character issues. The same was said about George Pickens last year.
The most concerning rumors for Wright is that he doesn’t work hard and is lazy. With all of AB’s troubles, he was an obsessive worker. I can’t slight him for that. If true, flat-out laziness and entitlement won’t pan out well for Wright in Pittsburgh or any NFL team. That’s for sure.