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Kendall Wright posted a 4.61 40 at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis which led to questions about his vertical speed. That’s going to happen at the WR position. Speed sells and everyone wants to get a stopwatch time to use as a tool in the grading process.
However, with Wright we are talking about a prospect that plays faster than his 40 time. That’s evident when you turn on the tape. “Game speed” as we like to call it. Today, let’s take a look at Wright running the 9 (fade) route vs. Kansas State’s Cover 1 (man-free) scheme:
A couple of quick notes:
– A basic route scheme (Smash-Seam). Both WRs to the closed (strong) side of the formation align outside of the numbers into the boundary (called an “over split”). With the FS shading his initial alignment (and drop) to the field in Cover 1, he wont be able to help on any vertical route into the boundary.
– Check out the route stem from Wright vs. off-man coverage. A slight inside stem to create separation and to force the DB to open his hips. Eat up the cushion (initial distance between DB and WR) and then get vertical up the field.
– Track the ball and finish the play. We can see the speed (and burst) here from Wright. But I’m more impressed with the WR’s ability to find the ball, go into full extension and finish off the play in the end zone. Given the game situation (4th down call), this is a big time play.
– The throw? Have to talk about it. We know RGIII is most likely coming off the board No.2 overall to the Redskins, and this “bucket throw” is just another example of why Washington gave up three first round picks (and a second) to move up four spots in the draft. Think ball placement—off of his back foot with pressure in his face.
Wright will get another opportunity to run the 40 and improve his time at the Baylor Pro Day tomorrow. I expect him to do that, but regardless if we see a 4.4 or a time in the 4.5s, Wright has shown NFL speed on his game tape. And this play is just another example of how he can run when the ball is in the air.
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