Darnell Wright is one of the most polished pass protectors in the 2023 NFL Draft. This detailed scouting report gives a glimpse at what the Tennessee star could be in the NFL.
Name: Darnell Wright
Position: Offensive Tackle
Age: 21 (Aug. 10, 2001)
Weight: 342 pounds
Arm Length: 34 1/8”
Wingspan: 82 3/8”
Hand Size: 8 1/2”
Darnell Wright 2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report
Darnell Wright was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia, and quickly became a five-star prospect on the recruiting trail. Wright committed to the Tennessee Volunteers, spurning offers from Alabama, Penn State, and several other prestigious programs.
As a true freshman, Wright appeared in 11 games, starting five at right tackle and two more at right guard. Following an impressive opening to his career, Wright posted nine starts at right tackle in 2020, proving to be one of the most reliable linemen on the roster.
In 2021, Wright jumped over to the blindside to play left tackle for the first time with Tennessee. He started 13 games with mixed results, only allowing three sacks all season but accumulating ten penalties in the process.
For his final season with the Volunteers, Wright moved to his more natural position at right tackle. The star lineman allowed zero sacks in 2022 and earned a career-high pass-blocking grade from PFF (80.2), marking a 20-point increase from the season before.
Four years as a starter, including 42 career starts, gives Wright unprecedented experience. Fresh off a first-team All-SEC appearance, the Tennessee standout is headed to the 2023 NFL Draft. Let’s get into the scouting report to see how Wright projects to the NFL.
•Pass-Blocking Technique – Darnell Wright flashed flawless fundamentals in 2022. He displayed impeccable footwork, using lateral agility to stifle pass rushers off the edge. Wright also possesses a strong anchor and hands, allowing him to sink into the turf against power rushers and hand-fight with anybody.
•Athleticism – The former five-star recruit shows above-average agility on tape. He gets off the snap quickly and always looks to clear a path for the running back at the second level. Wright’s ability to block in space will boost his 2023 NFL Draft stock. In a pass-happy scheme, Wright allowed zero sacks in pass protection during the 2022 season.
•Frame – Wright could add more explosiveness to his game by dropping some weight, but he is built to hold up throughout a 17-game NFL season. He boasts a strong base and uses his length to keep opposing tacklers at bay.
•Inside-Out Versatility – While Wright’s best play came at right tackle, he started 13 games at left tackle and two at right guard in his career. This versatility gives Wright a safer floor, as he can kick inside if necessary. At worst, Wright is a swing tackle in the NFL.
•Experience – As stated, Wright started 42 games in his collegiate career. Few prospects can match that experience, which explains why Wright is as refined as he is in pass protection. Whoever drafts the Tennessee lineman will plug him into the starting lineup immediately.
•Inconsistent Leverage – When Wright gets beat, it is because of inconsistent leverage. As quick as he is off the snap, Wright plays too tall as he engages with his assignment. For a player with such a lanky profile, he must clean up this area or savvy pass rushers will eat him alive.
•Run Blocking – Wright is a top-tier pass protector from day one, but he is a work in progress in the run game. While displaying powerful hands and above-average athleticism for the position, Wright frequently lacks proper balance. He gets ahead of his feet too often, allowing defenders to shrug him off and make a play on the ball.
•Bad Tape at LT – Wright did not perform well in the first half of 2021. He ended the season with six straight games not allowing a sack, giving some optimism for his potential at left tackle. However, most of the tape was inconsistent and featured several drive-killing penalties. Teams will be hesitant to use a first-round pick if Wright is viewed as a right tackle-only prospect by them.
2023 NFL Draft Grade
•Early Day Two (#4 OT on my Big Board)
Darnell Wright is a plug-and-play starter on the offensive line. I would confidently start Wright at right tackle as a rookie, allowing the Tennessee alum to flex his pass-protection ability. His ability to block in space will allow for some upside as a run blocker, but patience is required early in Wright’s career. Look for a playoff team at the end of day one to scoop him up.
Games Evaluated: 12