Darnell Wright, OT
School: Tennessee | Conference: SEC
College Experience: Senior | Age: 21 years
Height / Weight: 6’5” / 333 lbs
Projected Draft Status: Second half of Round 1
Darnell Wright has been a player to watch since he became a top 10 recruit in the country in his senior year of high school. He chose Tennessee, where he played for four years. Wright was an SEC All-Freshman OL, playing in 11 and starting 7 games at Right Tackle and Right Guard. As a sophomore, he had 9 starts, all at Right Tackle. He moved to the left side and started all 13 games at LT as a junior. In 2022, he moved back to RT for the season, where he was a unanimous All-SEC.
There is as big a variance in projections of Wright as for any player in this year’s draft. Some have him as a second rounder, while most have him as a mid to late first rounder. The mock drafts from NFL.com tell the story: he is picked 13, 17, 19, 28, and 34 by five analysts (Davis, Lewis, Brooks, Jeremiah, and Reuter respectively). But boy does he have his champions. Will Anderson of Alabama (a probably top 5 pick) called him the best OT he faced all year. Chris Simms says he is the best OT in the draft. ESPN’s Louis Riddick projects him as All-Pro in his rookie season and, get this, the best overall player in the draft this year. He is pounding the table for his old team, Pittsburgh, to take Wright at 17. Should Washington block that by taking Wright at 16?
- Prototypical size, frame, power, and athletic ability
- Excellent pass blocker – no sacks allowed as a senior in over 500 reps; stonewalled power (Will Anderson, Alabama) and speed (BJ Ojulari, LSU)
- Smart player – adjusts to the moves of the man across the line, helps teammates when he can
- Has mastered some pass blocking techniques – good use of feet, hands, punches; anchors well; vicious snatch and trap move
- Good feet for man his size - can move and pull when asked
- Has played RT, LT, and RG, although most experienced at RT
- Showed considerable development over his college career
- Adequate as a run blocker, but surprisingly not as good a run blocker as pass blocker
- Somewhat inconsistent in the run game – can flatten a defender or miss completely largely
- Limited experience with zone blocking, although he has the traits to be a good zone blocker (agility, good feet, speed)
- Technique issues in the run game that are not there in the pass game: he sometimes lunges, lowers his head; sometimes misses his man at the second level
Let’s See His Work:
Darnell Wright is a OT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 9.67 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 44 out of 1287 OT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/MFev2TZUGN #RAS pic.twitter.com/U5LoV09uBT— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 5, 2023
How Would He Fit in Washington:
The Commanders clearly are interested in Wright. He has received a top 30 visit and workout, and they met with him at both the Combine and Senior Bowl. New OC Eric Bieniemy also attended Tennessee’s Pro Day.
Wright would be a Day 1 starter, most likely at RT. He has the potential to be a LT, but he has the most experience and comfort on the right side, and the best tackle on the roster currently is LT Charles Leno, so Leno probably remains a starter too. Drafting Wright would signal the move of newcomer Wylie to G (his most natural position according to some, and one he has played) and Cosmi likely would remain at the other G. With that lineup, the OL would be much stronger and far more athletic in 2023 than it was in 2022, starting the season with two different Gs, a new RT, and possibly a new C if Roullier is released. Add a developmental OL later in the draft and Washington would have completed a major offseason overhaul of the OL.
There is an excellent chance that one of the two best pure OTs in the draft, Broderick Jones or Darnell Wright, will be available at 16. They are very similar except that Jones is a LT, and they are very close in potential. If Washington trades back, they probably won’t be able to draft either. There would still be good OTs later, but nobody is projecting any of them to be rookie All-Pros. It’s tempting to trade back and add picks, but it’s tough to pass on a difference maker in the first.
Would Darnell Wright be the right pick for the Commanders at 16?
This poll is closed
Yes: He’s a premium player and a premium position of need
Trade back, even if they may lose him; extra picks make a lesser OL worth it
No way: That’s too high for him, stay put and take someone else
Isn’t there a long snapper or fullback we can draft at that spot?