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Darnell Wright
NFL Draft

Could Darnell Wright Be 1st OT Taken In 2023 NFL Draft?

  • Justin Melo
  • April 21, 2023
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Tennessee offensive tackle Darnell Wright possesses an excellent opportunity to be the first tackle selected in the 2023 NFL Draft. Wright has been a steady riser throughout the process and it’s heading to culminate with a fruitful conclusion. Draft odds list Darnell Wright at +650 to beat out his contenders.

Wright has secured top-32 status. He’s battling the likes of Broderick Jones, Peter Skoronski, and Paris Johnson Jr. to be the first tackle drafted. Wright possesses something they don’t, and that’s positional versatility.

Wright has a ton of battle-tested experience at both left and right tackle. Wright immediately claimed a starting role as a freshman at right tackle in 2019 and manned that spot again in 2020. Wright kicked to left tackle in 2021 before wrapping his illustrious career back at right tackle in 2022. It makes Wright a universal fit for every franchise.

“I’m probably most comfortable at right tackle because I’ve played more snaps on the right side,” Wright told The Draft Network in January. “The majority of my experience is at right tackle. Ultimately, it comes down to which one you’ve put more time into. For me, that’s right tackle,” Wright concluded.

Wright is especially advanced in pass protection. Tennessee put forth a high-volume passing offense that helped Wright develop in pass pro. The Volunteers averaged a nation-leading 525.5 total yards of offense per contest in 2022. Quarterback Hendon Hooker experienced a historic campaign. It wasn’t possible without the protection Wright provided.

That experience in pass protection jumps off the screen when combing through Wright’s tape. He features an extremely stout anchor in pass protection. Opponents didn’t find success trying to play through him. Wright was excellent at this year’s Senior Bowl in one-on-one situations, a drill that usually favors pass rushers. Wright had a clean performance all week long.

Wright is a competitive blocker with a desired physical temperament. Wright’s confidence in pass pro is easy to spot. Wright trusts his anchor, feet, and length. Pro Football Focus awarded Wright with an 80.2 grade in pass protection this past season.

The NFL Scouting Combine provided Wright with an opportunity to display his high-level athletic traits. Wright didn’t disappoint, running the 40-yard dash in a 90th-percentile 5.01 seconds, per MockDraftable. Wright’s lower-body explosion was also on display via a 94th-percentile, 114-inch broad jump, which ranked third among all offensive tackles in attendance.

There are several tackle-needy franchises picking in the top 15 that could target Wright. The Chicago Bears (No. 9), Philadelphia Eagles (No. 10), Tennessee Titans (No. 11), and New York Jets (No. 13) are straightforward contenders. All four hosted Wright on Top 30 visits. Wright made a league-leading 17 Top 30 visits, sources told The Draft Network. Interest in Wright has reached an all-time high. The Bears, who require a plug-and-play starter at right tackle, are easy candidates to draft Wright with the No. 9 overall selection.

Wright is a clean evaluation that’s secured first-round standing. Wright could be the first tackle drafted. All indications are pointing that way.

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Justin Melo