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Cowboys Draft Prospects: Shareece Wright

This edition of Players of Cowboys Interest features USC cornerback Shareece Wright, who started all 13 games for the Trojans in 2010,  finishing the year with 73 tackles, including seven for a loss and a team-high 10 pass deflections and two fumble recoveries.  You can see him in action here. Wright was set to assume a starting role as a junior in 2009, but was ruled academically ineligible and had to sit out the regular season. He regained his eligibility for the Trojans' bowl game against Boston College and started that contest, getting 2 tackles and an interception. His largely absent junior year was made further problematic by the fact that Wright, after beginning his sophomore season in strong fashion, was sidelined for the remainder because of a hairline neck fracture.  

As a result, the book on Wright is incomplete; nevertheless, he has been spending this offseason furiously trying to add good material to its pages. The 5-foot-11, 182-pounder excelled at the Senior Bowl, displaying good feet and the ability to break on the ball; at the Combine, he flashed good speed (a 4.4 forty time) although not much explosion, registering only 34.5 a vertical jump and one of the weakest broad jumps among defensive backs (a video of his Combine workout can be found here). At USC's pro day, Wright added solid broad jump (10-foot), three-cone (7.0 seconds) and short shuttle (4.32) times.

Perhaps because of his raw speed, he has received a lot of attention from NFL teams. Wright conducted roughly 15 private interviews at the Combine and has scheduled visits with the Texans, Chiefs, and Panthers in addition to the Cowboys. Like the last player we looked at, Southern Illinois' Korey Lindsey, Wright likely intrigues teams because he has some NFL tools but is almost certain to be on the board late in day two, perhaps even into day three. If this holds, teams figure he could be a bargain.

Wanna see if our fave draft pundits agree? Check out what they have to say after the jump.

National Football Post (Wes Bunting) 19th-rated CB; 135th overall

Has had a tough time staying on the field over the course of his career due to injury and academic problems. However, showcases some physicality as a tackler and generates good power on contact. Could do a better job wrapping up, but loves to throw his body around.

Looks natural sitting into his stance when asked to play up near the line and press. However, he isn't real consistent with his bump. Too often likes to play in the trail technique and allows himself to get too upright and will struggle to quickly regain his balance and click and close on the football when he isn't physical off the line. But, when he does try to re-route off the line he looks much more comfortable maintaining his balance, quickly getting in and out of his breaks and can run with receivers down the field. Exhibits good ball skills and awareness vertically and routinely is able to quickly get his head around and find the throw. Isn't quite as impressive in zone at this stage, has a tendency to overextend when asked to get a bump off the line and will lose track of the football. Nevertheless, he's a coordinated enough athlete to read his pass keys and put himself in position because of instincts and closing speed to make plays on the football. Really struggles to keep his pad level down in off-coverage, allows himself to get too leggy when trying to regain his balance out of his breaks and doesn't have much click and close ability on throws in front of him because of it.

Impression: Really seemed to take a step back under the new coaching at USC in 2010. Had some good tape as a junior and looks more like a press only corner to me, but I have reservations thinking this guy can be a starter for you on the outside.

The Sporting News (Russ Lande) 11th-rated CB; overall unknown (not in top 99)

Strengths: Is a smart and instinctive corner who consistently gets the most production out of his talent. Does an excellent job of reading the quarterback. Transitions out of his backpedal, closes quickly on passes in front of him and aggressively uses his front arm to reach in front of the receiver to break up the pass. Is able to get his head around to locate the ball and has the ball skills to break up the pass. Can jolt the receiver with a hard jam, slows his initial release and makes him really work to get off the line of scrimmage and into his route. Has consistently shown the willingness to come up and make tackles in run support and on passes in front of him.

Weaknesses: Lacks the hip flexibility and agility NFL teams want in their starting cornerbacks. Doesn't have the necessary burst to catch up if he loses a step on the receiver. Shows hip tightness at times. Can be lazy in press coverage on some occasions.

Bottom line: Wright is currently sliding down draft boards right now after he failed to show solid all-around athleticism during the week of the Senior Bowl. However, it's important to remember that he was a consistently productive corner at USC who broke up a number of passes. Wright's poor showing at the Senior Bowl will likely see him drafted lower than we have him rated here. But based on what we saw his film, he has the ability to be a solid backup and could develop into a starter with improvement in his footwork routes.

Pro Football Weekly (Nolan Nawrocki) 10th-rated CB; 78th overall

Positives: Good size-well-proportioned with muscle definition. Has strength to press receivers at the line. Good straight-line speed and closing burst. Hustler-great effort chasing down Washington QB Jake Locker from Behind. Reads quarterback drops and drives on throws. Willing, physical run supporter who sets the edge. Good tackle production and shows pop on contact. Tough and intense. Has potential as a gunner on special teams.

: Game does not come naturally to him and could need extra reps to grasp NFL complexities. Very stiff-is not a fluid mover and does not transition smoothly. Plays on his heels. Struggles in off coverage. Suspect hands and downfield ball skills-loses phase, struggles with his back to the ball and lacks finishing skills (one career interception). Injury history needs to be looked into and durability could be an issue.

Summary: Well-proportioned, competitive, physical, press-and-trail corner who lacks elite top-end speed, recovery burst and ball skills. His confidence and physicality will appeal to teams such as the Ravens, Lions, Giants, Rams and Seahawks that like to roll up their corners.

ESPN/ Scouts, Inc. (Gary Horton) 16th-rated CB; 124th overall

Instincts/Recognition: Does a great job of reading receivers tendencies and eyes in man coverage. Uses sideline as an ally. Savvier than his game experience would indicate. Has gambled too much in the past and needs to show more discipline. But shows playmaking instincts and confidence to bounce back from a mistake.

Cover Skills: Shows good fluidity, quick feet and adequate-to-good top-end speed. Can mirror most collegiate WR's one-on-one and has the athleticism to develop into a solid man-to-man cover corner in the NFL. Will occasionally bite on a double move but shows change-of-direction skills and closing burst to recover. Is physical and strong for his size. Can develop into a good bump-and-run cover corner with better press-technique. Also shows flashes of excellent diagnostic skills in zone.

Ball Skills: Consistently knows when to turn for the ball. Is aggressive and will attack the ball in the air. Closes quickly when the ball is in the air. Only one INT throughout career but shows good upside in this area.

Run Support
: Is strong for his size and flashes a mean streak. More willing than most corners to support the run. Typically leads with his shoulder and shows good initial pop. But does not break down and wrap up in space enough. Will miss some tackles, as a result.

: Ruled academically ineligible for the 2009 season (returned to start in bowl game vs. BC). Has done a lot of maturing during his collegiate career, especially following the academic suspension. Is reportedly much improved in areas of self discipline and leadership.

As with several of the other corners the Cowboys seem to be interested in, Wright has some Orlando Scandrick in him: he comes with NFL-caliber raw tools (in Wright's case, his 4.4 speed) and good size--but some less than stellar tape and perhaps a hole or two in his game. These are precisely the sorts of guys teams must take chances on in the middle to late rounds of a draft--and the Cowboys look almost certain to do so in this draft. The question remains: which one will it be--and will the gamble pay off. Check back this time next year, and I'll have a better answer for you.

In the meantime, I have to slot Wright somewhere on our pseudo-draft board. The above scouting evaluations suggest that he'll come off the board at the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth round. I think the Cowboys pick at the top of the fourth--at # 110--is a tad high; however, given the amount of interest Wright has generated, I don't think he'll last to the Cowboys pick early in the fifth round, so I'm going to place him in round four, at pick 110.

Next up: Louisville CB Johnny Patrick

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