With their final pick of the 2016 NFL Draft, No. 250 of the seventh round, the Browns selected linebacker Scooby Wright of Arizona. The Arizona Wildcat played in only three games last season, notching 23 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He suffered multiple injuries that cut his season short. The previous season in 2014, he played in 14 games, posting 163 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks and six forced fumbles. The selection of Wright adds much needed depth at the linebacker spot, after losing Karlos Dansby and Craig Robertson to free agency.
So, what are the Browns getting in their new linebacker? Let’s take a look at the film to examine Scooby Wright’s strengths and weaknesses.
Avoiding Defenders/Fighting through Contact
This clip shows one of Wright’s best skills, avoiding or fighting through contact. On the play, he is lined up on the edge against the UCLA right tackle. The play is a run up the middle. Wright is able to do a quick swim move past the tackle, enabling him to get to the runner and help make the stop. Wright is very good at avoiding getting blocked and finding a way to get to the ball carrier. He can fight through contact and the scrum of the line to make a play on the ball. He has quick and sound hands that allow him to stay free from oncoming blockers. He has good lateral quickness to side step a blocker and get past them. This ability is key for Wright making plays against the run game.
Wright’s instincts and vision helps him make up for some his weaknesses. On the play above, he is lined up in the middle of the defense with the UCLA offense threatening on the goaline to get a touchdown. But, he makes a quick and great read, finding an open lane that allowed him to get to the ball carrier in the backfield. Wright does not have the athleticism or size that teams look for in a linebacker, but his instincts and vision make up for these deficiencies. He seemingly is always the first to react correctly to the play, giving himself a headstart to make a play on the ball. He has the vision to find open and clean alleys to run through without getting caught in traffic and falling behind the play. Wright is an instinctual player who sometimes looks like he is listening to the opposing offense’s playbook.
Wright makes quick decisions, reacting with quickness to a play. On the play above, he is in zone coverage against a UCLA pass play. But, he is extremely quick to read and react to the quarterback deciding to scramble. He moves immediately toward the quarterback when he sees the signal caller look down to find a running lane, getting to the quarterback for a sack. Wright may not be an athletic freak, but he does have short area quickness to close on a runner. He pairs this quickness with quick reaction time and decision-making. He does not hesitate to make a decision. He reads the play and immediately reacts. This skill set for Wright is a great trait for a linebacker.
Fluidity/Movement in Space
This play illustrates Wright’s lack of great fluidity and change of direction ability. On the play, he makes a great read on a run to the right, running free through an alley and meeting the running back in the backfield. But, he loses the runner after the back makes a quick cut to the outside, leaving Wright behind, unable to move quickly enough to catch the back. Wright is a little stiff in his hips, which hurts his ability to change direction quickly. A quick cut or move can be too quick for him to react, leaving him too slow to transition his hips and go with the ball carrier. This also hurts him in coverage. He can struggle to cover players in space, along with moving in zone coverage, shuffling his hips to move in his assigned area. Wright is just not a player who will make plays in space or in coverage.
As I’ve noted before, Wright is not a great athlete and so with that he does not have great speed. On the play, he is lined up in the middle of the defense and the play is a designed run to the left edge. Wright is pretty clean with his eye on the running back. But, he just does not have the speed to get to the runner at any point, unable to even get him on the sideline. Wright will not be a sideline-to-sideline type linebacker. He just does not have the speed to chase down backs from behind. His lack of speed will also hurt him in coverage when he is assigned to cover a player in man coverage. Wright is a short area type linebacker, not a new aged athletic freak who can run as well as a running back.
Wright is a very inconsistent tackler, as you can see above. On the play, he is assigned to cover the running back in the pass play, which he does pretty well. He is in line to make a tackle, but he dives for the runner rather than running through him, causing him to miss the tackle. Wright is not a technically sound tackler. He can lunge to make the big hit, which also can lead to broken or miss tackles. He also can take bad angles on plays, which will cause him to whiff on a tackle. He can be too aggressive and over run the play, which once again can lead to miss tackles. Wright must get more technically sound and under control as a tackler.
Wright is a small linebacker at 6-foot, 239 pounds and with that he is not the strongest linebacker in the world. On the play above, Arizona State designed a run to the right end of the line and Wright is lined up in the middle of the defense. Wright gets over to fill the lane on defense, but the right tackle sucks him up. The right tackle completely over-powered him and pushed him out of the play. When a blocker gets fully engaged with Wright, Wright can have a hard time getting away from him. He is not an overly strong defender, so he can be over-powered by blockers. He will not be a stout player at the point of attack because of small size and lack of strength. Wright needs to evade blockers or quickly get off of them or he can be taken for a ride.