What Could Kendall Wright Do To Improve The Detroit Lions?
Kendall Wright was the darling receiver in Tennessee under Mike Munchak but has fallen on hard times. Since an incredible sophmore season in 2013 (96 catches and 1079 yards), Wright’s abilities have not been valued by the Titans. He has been subjected to four playcallers in the last three seasons, none of whom have appreciated his abilities. Wright was a healthy scratch to finish his final year in Tennesee and has been quoted as saying he feels “free” now that his contract has ended.
What Does Kendall Wright Bring To The Table?
Early in his career, Wright was successful with his impressive quickness and route running. He has a unique ability to move defensive backs without pushing off. Wright is one of the league’s better players at using his feet to set up defensive backs for cuts. He commonly bends his route slightly across a defender’s face before cutting back the other way, making the job of staying with him extremely difficult. The defensive back has to change direction twice in an instant. It is a trick often used by Anquan Boldin against off man or zone coverage where he is running directly at a defender. Against those styles of defenses, Wright is virtually unstoppable.
Wright’s hands have been relatively good, with a 3.6% drop rate in his career. More than half of his drops came in his first two seasons. He has had four drops in the last three years on 196 targets. Wright is not the most physical of players, but he has never shied away from taking a hit to make a catch. If Wright gets off the line, creates separation, and the ball gets in to his catch radius, invariably the result is a catch. That catch radius is deceptively large and he is very good at adjusting to balls while they are in the air.
Why Might Kendall Wright Be Available?
Wright has had some issues with his coaching staffs. From day one of the Ken Wisenhunt era, Wright saw his place in the sun slip away. For some reason there are coaches in the NFL that refuse to believe that a player does not need to be 6’4 to work inside and the Titans have had a string of them offensively. Wright also lacks break away speed making him less able than you would hope to get deep. When Wright gets open, the ball needs to get there in an instant. NFL caliber defensive backs almost all have better straight line speed than Kendall Wright. Wright is a 5’11 and 191 pounds and the Titans have not been able to see value in that. The relationship between the team and the player has been poisonous.
The other issue that Wright has is press coverage. If defenders are allowed to get physical with him at the line of scrimmage, Wright has had some issues breaking through. His size is a limiting factor requiring his offensive coordinator to bring him in motion occasionally to ease this burden.
The Bottom Line For Kendall Wright
Wright is a reclamation project for whatever team picks him up. He will get a one year “show me” deal somewhere that will give him the opportunity to show he’s not on his way out of the league. At 27 years old, he still has the opportunity to get one more big deal if he can prove he deserves it. Detroit’s number three wide receiver had twice as many receptions as Wright did last year. Such a role would grant him the opportunity to get his game back without the pressure or baggage he had in Tennessee. Wright’s cap hit will likely be less than $2 million in 2017. He could be an excellent short term option for the Lions as a possession receiver. He isn’t the type of player that precludes taking a receiver in the draft somewhere.