From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Kentucky Edge Jordan Wright.
#15 Jordan Wright, EDGE, Kentucky (SR.) – 6050, 231LBS
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Jordan Wright||6’5” 231lbs||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Intriguing athletic profile
— Versatile skillset, played as traditional 3-4 OLB and off the ball
— Has plenty of experience dropping into coverage
— Solid burst off the LOS
— Average at setting the edge, keeping an arm and leg free to pursue
— Frame is slight and lanky
— Plays with a very high pad level
— Gets bullied at the line of scrimmage in the run game
— Raw pass rusher, lacks a consistent move set
— Allows blockers to get into his frame at the POA
— Struggles using his hands or traditional technique to disengage from run blockers
— Lackluster motor overall
— Birthday: December 21, 1998 (24 years old)
— Three-star recruit out of high school, had 25 sacks as a senior
— Super Senior; dual degrees at Kentucky (community and leadership development, kinesiology)
— Career Stats: 168 tackles, 25 for a loss, 9.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions (including a pick-six in 2020) and 17 pass deflections.
When you look at Jordan Wright, it’s hard not to get a bit excited at the thought of what potential lies within his lean 6’5”-231lb frame. Frustratingly, the production doesn’t totally match up as he recorded just 9.5 sacks in his Wildcat career despite being a significant contributor on defense over the past three seasons
Some of that can be explained by Kentucky’s usage of Wright. The Wildcats do run a 3-4 defense, but they sometimes treat their Edge linebackers like traditional outside backers. Wright found himself apexing a slot receiver just as often as he was lining up on the edge to rush the passer.
While his pass-rushing skills weren’t jumping off the screen, his athleticism certainly was.
Check him out here, spying Anthony Richardson, beginning his pursuit as soon as the QB begins to break the pocket, and chasing him down for a significant loss.
Another example of Wright making a play away from the edge – Here against South Carolina, he’s split out prepared to be in coverage, recognizes the run and crashes down on the running back for a minimal gain.
Speaking of coverage, Wright drops way more than you’d expect. With a 6’5” frame, sometimes he looks a bit awkward out there. Still, he covers a lot of space and disrupts pass lanes. He’s not wowing anyone with fluid hips or making drastic shifts in space to make plays.
In the same vein, he’s not playing a lot of man coverage – and when he does, it’s usually a mismatch, as it is here against Florida as he gets burned on a slot receiver wheel route for a big gain.
Still, he’s aware in space and is capable of making dynamic plays. He terrorized Richardson in a handful of ways, none more impactful than this interception as the quarterback tries to throw around Wright and instead watches as the linebacker plucks the pass out of the air in an impressive show of athleticism.
That’s all well and good, and mighty impressive all things considered, but Wright is built to be a pass rusher – so why didn’t he produce as a pass rush artist in his college career?
It starts with this play against South Carolina. When Wright gets a burst off the line, you expect his athleticism to give him depth on his rush and his long arms to give him space from the tackle. But that doesn’t happen here. He gets the burst, but as he arrives at the point of attack, it’s clear he doesn’t have a plan, and when the tackle gets his hands on Wright, the linebacker struggles to transition to anything effective.
So many of his rush attempts look like this. He had two sacks in 2022, the first of which came against Florida – he was blocked by a running back that made a poor attempt at a block and Wright just managed to knock the ball out of Richardson’s hands as he climbed the pocket. No sacks in the other two games I watched. He didn’t create much pressure either.
So where’s the athleticism in his pass rush? If he hasn’t developed a pass rush moveset, can he at least win with speed or a bend around the edge? The potential is there. At 6’5”, it’s hard to imagine him having an extreme bend, but he does have an idea of how to pull it off. Watch him here against Ole Miss scoop under the left tackle just enough to close on the QB shortly before the throw is away.
As for his run defense containing the edge, it’s a mixed bag. He clearly understands how to solidify the edge and turn backs inside or crash down when necessary. Here’s a solid example against Ole Miss (again, backed off the line of scrimmage) as he keeps his outside shoulder free, fights through the block and brings down the quarterback for a loss.
Unfortunately, when he is the defensive end, he gets bullied at the line of scrimmage -tight ends, tackles, heck even wide receivers all consistently pushed him back significantly or even pancaked him. Here he is against Florida, turned in and driven out of the play by a tight end.
There’s potential there, but it was not unlocked at Kentucky. Jordan Wright lacks the tools in his arsenal to be a pass-rushing contributor early in his NFL career. His experience in the open field as an off-ball backer is intriguing, but his body and his style of athleticism aren’t built for long-term success at the next level in that role. And until he fills out his frame, it’s hard to see him being much help in the trenches on run downs.
Still, his athletic profile is enough to spark interest among NFL teams late in the draft, but he’s a project through and through – and that’s a tough sell for a 24-year-old.
The Steelers have taken chances on edge backers that are long shots to be contributors but have that eye-catching athleticism – remember Travis Feeney? That project didn’t work out, but it’s not a hard rule that Wright can’t improve enough to carve out a role. Still, if he wears black and gold in 2023, there’s little reason to expect him to be the team’s answer as it searches for a third edge backer.
Projection: Late Day 3 / UDFA
Depot Grade: 5.7 (Undrafted Free Agent)
Games Watched: Florida ‘22, South Carolina ‘22, Ole Miss ‘22