K.J. Wright- 2011 Draft Scouting Report


Mississippi State outside linebacker K.J. Wright is one of my favorite sleepers in this draft class. I have always loved what I have seen from Wright.

Wright has excellent physical tools. He has ideal size, excellent speed, and outstanding bulk for outside linebacker. Also, considering the fact that he got 8 career sacks despite the fact that he was a 4-3 outside linebacker, a move to 3-4 outside linebackers is not out of the question, as he possesses the bulk and size to play the position.

Wright has impressive stats. He has 254 tackles and 8 sacks in his career, both of which are pretty good numbers, the sacks especially considering he played 4-3 outside linebacker. Last year, he got 93 tackles, easily his best season. He also managed to lead the team in pass breakups in 2010, which is very impressive for a linebacker.

Wright has outstanding, underrated instincts. In 2009, instincts were easily the worst weakness for Wright. But in 2010, he really showed major improvement in his instincts (but didn’t really get credit for it). He showcased phenomenal instincts and on field awareness in 2010, improving his coverage skills and taking ideal angles in pursuit on run plays. He also stopped biting on misdirections, screens, and play-actions, but he did have a habit of overrunning ball carriers in pursuit, whether he was trying to get a sack or a tackle for a loss. He could really improve his body control. However, Wright has outstanding change of direction skills. He has really loose hips, helping him cover shifty tight ends and catch ball carriers in run support.

Wright has ideal intangibles. He was voted the team’s captain in 2010, and he shows a lot of leadership qualities on the field. He is vocally motivating, passionate about the game of football, and he plays the game with ideal on field intensity. He does however, leave a bit too much on the field in the first half, often wearing down as the game goes on.

Wright is is excellent in coverage. He has the speed and fluidity to stay with most tight ends in coverage. He showcases good route recognition skills, superior awareness in coverage, and an incredible wingspan (longest of any linebacker at the combine) that allows him to deflect any pass anywhere near him. His hands, however, are pitiful. Last year, he managed to deflect 9 passes without a single interception, which seems nearly impossible. He has 0 interceptions in his career.

Wright has a ton of potential at 3-4 outside linebacker, as well as 4-3 outside linebacker. Wright managed to get 8 career sacks, an impressive number considering he played in a 4-3 defense. I always saw unfulfilled potential from Wright as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He had great quickness and athleticism and he was also decent at using his hands to shed off blocks, but he frequently overran quarterbacks as a pass rusher, and Mississippi State frequently used him in coverage because he was productive in coverage as well. He has underrated potential in a 3-4.

Wright’s a decent tackler. He really can miss some open field tackles, as I said before, overrunning the target but he has enough strength to make up for it. He also is a very hard hitter, and he uses decent tackling fundamentals.

Overall, I just love Wright. He’s a great player that could really be something special in the NFL. He’s an underrated player, and he could be superb in the NFL. Watch for it.

NFL Comparison: Julian Peterson. Wright has underrated pass rush potential like Peterson, who got 9 sacks in his first 3 years in the NFL but later exploded with years of 10 and 9.5 sacks, which is pretty impressive in a 4-3 defense. Wright could do the same thing. They also have similar builds and have similar style of play.

Grade: 85 (worthy of a mid-second round draft pick)

Projection: 73 (will be a late-third round pick)

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