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Unlike most burners, Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright showed time and time again throughout the season that he can take a hit and deliver some punishment as well. This was most evident in a game against Iowa State. On three separate occasions, Wright was delivered a hit that would knock a weaker player out of the game. He was laid out on an end around by cornerback Leonard Johnson, a Top 100 prospect in his own right, and Wright got right back up and stayed in after it. On the next series, Wright was leveled on a quick slant, held onto the ball, and got right back up. In the second half, he had his leg bent backwards on a play that did looked downright ugly. He went to the sideline for a play, shook it off, and came right back in and continued to produce through a bum leg. Most wide receivers of Wright’s stature wouldn’t have done this, but this kid just has special toughness.
This was not a one-time occurrence, either, as he suffered a similar knockout blow against Texas A&M, but bounced right back up and kept battling. He’s also plenty strong to break through arm tackles, and he can use his speed to separate himself once the tackle is broken. Wright also possesses great quickness and change of direction. This quickness and burst will allow for him to get open quicker when running clean routes at the next level. He’s a menace to cover, and even if corners stay with him, he still has the ability to bring in the tough catches and get free from the tackle afterwards.
That said, Wright’s game is not built around his toughness; it’s just a special quality for a guy of his build. His game is built around speed, and Wright will wow at the combine in February. Look for him to post one of the more impressive 40 times, somewhere in the low 4.4 range. Wright also consistently runs good routes, both short and deep. He has the ability to make yardage off of short screen plays or going across the middle for a deep in route. He excels at the deep ball as well, and has proven to get behind even some of the better collegiate cornerbacks.
All that, and it is very nice to see a fast guy get right back up after being popped and proceed to catch a 70-yard bomb for a touchdown. It was a game against Texas A&M and it did get called back for a penalty (not on Wright), but that sequence of plays is what really opened my eyes to what this kid can do. In fact, in the only game in which he netted under 91 receiving yards he had a 50-yard touchdown called back due to a (non-Wright) penalty, and in every game he had a play of 20 yards or more, and no less than six catches in every game, either.
This kid’s game just screams, “My Ball!” That level of production, even with a Heisman winning quarterback, is simply impossible to ignore. It’s not like Wright accumulated his yardage how many spread wide receivers do, bubble screens and quick outs. He was consistently beating people down field every single week regardless of the opponent.
We looked long and hard for weaknesses, and without being nitpicky, there are not many glaring issues. The one thing that really stuck out to us is his inexperience in the intermediate passing game. Baylor’s offense is built around the short passing game only with plenty of vertical passing mixed in, unlike most spread attacks. Wright will have to learn, and show that he can master, the intermediate route tree as well. The only other potential issue is an unproven one at this point – a willingness and ability to block down the field. Baylor does not do much running outside of the tackles, except for Robert Griffin when the play breaks down, so there wasn’t much available to evaluate Wright’s blocking. This is always a concern when it comes to smaller players, but given the tenacity Wright plays the game with we doubt his willingness will be an issue. It’s just a matter of does he know how to. This is something we will be monitoring throughout the off season.
Bottom Line – Wright presents more upside this year than just about any other wide receiver. Teams who have continuously targeted bigger wide receivers because they’re more prototypical won’t be looking at Wright. However, the emergence of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ wide receiver duo (Mike Wallace/Antonio Brown) definitely helps Wright, and the NFL is a copycat league. We think Wright has similar explosion to Wallace, only he is much more developed than Wallace was when he entered the league. Wright could have a similar impact as Wallace depending on where he lands in April. Wright is at the very least a future starter to compliment a Brandon Marshall or Larry Fitzgerald type and very well could develop into a future No. 1 if he masters the intermediate passing game. Watch for him to start vaulting up draft boards come February.
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