With the NFL Scouting Combine fast approaching, Steve Shoup and I took some time to discuss our differing views on UConn cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Previously, we've talked about USC safety T.J. McDonald, feel free to check that out here.
UK: Blidi Wreh-Wilson is an intriguing prospect. At nearly 6'1, 192 pounds, he a good size for a corner. He also measured in at the Senior Bowl with the longest wing span among defensive backs, around 77-inches. That kind of size and length jumps out at you on paper, so I was excited to see him in practice. But I was a little disappointing to say the least when I saw him cheating on quick out routes because he knew they were coming. Eventually he got beat on a couple of double moves as a result. What was your first impression of him Steve?
Steve: I love Wreh-Wilson's size and potential, but I think if you are drafting him in the top 3 rounds, that is all you are really getting. As you mentioned he was wholly disappointing Senior Bowl week (after the weigh-in). He didn't looks smooth or fluid (compared to some of the other top corners) in some of the individual drills (things like his back pedal, flipping hips etc). In 1-on-1, 7-on-7 and full scrimmage drills during practice he rarely stood out for anything positive, allowing too much separation and uncontested catches. Perhaps most disappointing to me was his struggling trying to press receivers. Given his size and arm length he should be able to jam receivers effectively, but he was inconsistent when asked to do it in practice. Did you see anything that made you change your opinion of him UK?
UK: Well I went back and watch some cut-ups of his senior year at UConn and was much more impressed with what I saw. He was used mainly in press/trail and off-man coverage. I found that these suited his strengths best. In press/trail, he came up to the line of scrimmage and took and inside stance, forcing receivers to take an outside release. He then displayed good technique trailing up the sideline, where he forced the receiver closer and closer to the sideline, narrowing the throwing window for the quarterback. What I liked most was that once he closed the throwing window, he did an excellent job of turning his head and locating the ball in the air. He often used his length well to make a play on the ball, be it just to knock the ball away, or intercept it. In off-man, he did a good job of reading the quarterback and breaking on the ball. But I agree, he rarely uses a back pedal. He would sit on the underneath routes, or turn and run on deep routes. Back pedaling is something he'd need to improve on in the NFL. How do you see him fitting in on this Redskins defense with Jim Haslett's scheme?
Steve: While I agree watching some video of Wreh-Wilson shows more promise, even then it doesn't wow me. You don't see great fluidity with any sort of back pedal or flipping the hips quickly, long speed is a question that he needs to answer at the combine, as is his ability to play to the physicality of his size. For the Redskins I would be really concerned with him getting exposed in a starting capacity. I feel he's better suited playing zone and versus bigger possession receivers. I don't see the quickness or ability to change directions to really handle speed receivers or guys with a quick change of direction. This to me really limits his upside and potential and could keep him from ever being a full-time starter. How about you UK, how would you utilize him and what upside do you see?
UK: Well as I said previously, he's at his best in press/trail. I think he'd be best used when the Redskins are sending blitzes. In press/trail, he is accustomed to not allowing the inside release, which is key to a lot of the blitz packages the Redskins use. If he can learn to properly use his size to take away the inside and force the receiver outside, then the quarterback is going to have to look elsewhere before the blitz arrives. So what round are we looking at here?
Steve: I know I differ than most but I don't consider him a viable 2nd or 3rd round option for the Redskins. I think any team taking him that high is making a pretty big risk, and likely won't be seeing a positive return on their investment. The 4th round is the earliest I'd feel comfortable taking him. How about you?
UK: I'm a little unsure on where to place him. I think if we took him in the 2nd, you'd feel like there were probably a couple of better players available. But if he fell to the 3rd, you'd probably be pretty excited about getting his upside at that point. Somewhere in between, maybe early 3rd sounds right to me.
Thanks again to Steve for his contribution to this, always has great insight on these draft prospects. Be sure to check out his draft coverage over at Fanspeak.