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Player Spotlight: Scooby Wright III

A detailed look at Scooby Wright's fantasy prospects for 2016.

THE CLEVELAND MYSTERY MACHINE

The Browns’ offseason change to an analytics approach has many people wondering if they can be a successful team. One of their newest players has also endured questions and skepticism as to whether or not he has what it takes. Phillip Wright III (affectionately nicknamed Scooby by his father) was drafted with the third-to-last pick of the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft. His high school coach, Paul Cronin, recounts how hard Wright worked to get to that point:

Football is an obsession with Scooby. I remember meeting him as a young kid and he came into our school as an eighth-grader saying 'I want to be a Division I linebacker.' He had goals, he was focused on from day one when he walked on campus and he worked out like an animal. In my life, I have never seen anyone work as hard as him.

Wright was only a two-star recruit out of high school, as scouts questioned his speed and athleticism. His Twitter handle (@TwoStarScoob) is a constant reminder of that slight. He only got one scholarship offer from Arizona, which he accepted. He showed promise as a freshman, earning a starting spot for twelve games. Wright’s sophomore season was one of the best ever in college football. He logged 163 total tackles, and 29 of them were for a loss. He also had 14.5 sacks and six forced fumbles. His memorable season earned him the Chuck Bednarik Award (for best defensive college player), the Rotary Lombardi Award (for best college lineman or linebacker), and the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (also for best defensive college player). Though his junior campaign was tainted by a knee and foot injury, Wright rehabbed with a tenacity rarely seen and managed to come back in time to play one last game with his beloved Wildcats.

SCRAPPY SCOOBY

Wright has been compared to former Dolphins great Zach Thomas. The comparison is an apt one. Wright is a relentless, high-motor player. His instincts and ability to anticipate the snap are off the charts. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for in play recognition. These traits help him to be an effective gap blitzer. Wright is a leader on the defense, calling out audibles and play formations to the other defensemen. He hits ball carriers with a nice pop generated from the lower body. Scooby landed on a less crowded depth chart that sets up well for a future opportunity. With Karlos Dansby departing to the Bengals, only Christian Kirksey and former Texan Justin Tuggle sit ahead of him.

WARY OF WRIGHT

Wright is an average athlete with limited speed. He sometimes has issues with lunging for tackles and missing. He can get washed out of plays by being overly aggressive. He wasn’t often asked to cover on passing downs and many scouts question if he has the requisite speed to do so. Wright also must improve at taking on blocks and shedding them if he hopes to be a competent NFL middle linebacker. Due to needing to improve some technical issues and having fewer overall opportunities because of low draft pedigree, Wright is not likely to immediately earn a starting spot.

POSITIVES

  • A film room junky and a gym rat, Wright is a leader who loves the game and gives his all to it.

  • Wright is elite when it comes to play diagnosis and on-field effort.

  • A relatively open depth chart in Cleveland portends future opportunity.

NEGATIVES

  • Wright lacks the ideal athleticism and straight line speed of a typical NFL middle linebacker. He also needs to improve block shedding technique if he hopes to compete at this level.

  • He was not asked to turn and run with running backs and tight ends, so this part of his game is a question mark.

  • Wright is unlikely to be given the chance to start right out of the gate.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It’s almost impossible not to root for this hardworking underdog, though there are some glaring technical issues with his game. Wright is currently an afterthought in dynasty leagues with mixed rookie drafts. If you can get away with adding him to your watch list and waiting it out until he gets his shot, that is the optimal move. If it’s a very deep league, consider spending an early sixth-round pick on Wright.

2016 PROJECTIONS

JOHN NORTON'S PROJECTIONS

G

TKL

AST

SCK

FF

FR

PD

INT

TD

FPT

16

32

21

1

0

0

1

0

0

90.00

Note: Wright was not projected for this year by staffer Aaron Rudnicki.

OTHER VIEWPOINTS

Charlie Campbell wrote in his WalterFootball.com Player Preview that Wright can be used in a versatile manner:

For the NFL, Wright looks like a great fit in a 3-4 defense that will move him around. He could play on the inside in running situations and rush the quarterback from the edge on passing downs. In a 4-3 defense, Wright could be used similar to Von Miller, play as a traditional middle linebacker or play as a Sam (strongside) linebacker who often is rushing after the quarterback.

Journalist Micheal Lev shared his doubts about Wright in this azcentral.com article:

The disparity between Wright’s film and his draft reality boils down to one word: space. NFL football has become a game played ‘in space’ — a pass-first sport that requires linebackers and safeties to cover receivers and ground almost the way cornerbacks do. NFL teams have concerns about Wright’s ability to play in space.