‘Is He Studying Trent Williams Tape?’: Why Darnell Wright Is Brian Baldinger’s No. 1 Tackle In 2023 NFL Draft

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers draft an offensive tackle in the first round? If so, who should it be—who could it be? Barring a trade up, there are certain names that are unlikely to be there if the pre-draft hype is to be believed, though there is always room for variable factors.

Yet if NFL analyst Brian Baldinger had his way, the first tackle off the board would actually be Tennessee’s Darnell Wright, whom the Steelers have shown interest in. Not the most popular choice by any means—a fact of which Baldinger is well aware—he nevertheless made his case on the In the Huddle podcast.

I’ve watched him start 42 games for Tennessee”, he said of 21-year-old, whose best season is generally agreed to have been his last. “I saw him go up against Will Anderson Jr. at Alabama this year…and I saw Darnell Wright eliminate Will Anderson”.

Baldinger also noted battles in 2021 with Georgia’s Travon Walker, who was the first-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Anderson is expected to be the first defensive player taken off the board this year, perhaps third overall. But his most interesting comment about Wright was one comparison in particular.

“He’s got this Trent Williams ability just to be able to knock hands down and reset while he’s moving his feet”, he said. “Trent Williams does it. Nobody’s better than Trent Williams in this business. Nobody does it like Trent Williams. And I see Darnell Wright doing it. I’m saying, ‘Is he studying Trent Williams tape?’”.

The fourth-overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Williams has been a Pro Bowler or better for 10 years running and even at 34 years old continues to be acknowledged as the best in the game. Remarkably, he’s only made the first-team All-Pro team twice—in each of the past two years.

Wright and Williams are of similar build, though the former may be a bit heavier. And any comparison to an All-Pro and potential Hall of Famer is going to be more than a little difficult to live up to. Baldinger himself even later said in discussing another of the tackle prospects that nobody is Trent Williams.

But he believes in Wright and who he is, describing him as “Just a big old bruising mauler guy. Some days he doesn’t even block guys, he just mauls then. He’s got a flipper, just a whole can of nasty in him”. The Steelers could use even a shot glass of nasty in the offensive trenches, though perhaps that’s Isaac Seumalo.

For the record, Baldinger’s list of the top tackles continued with Broderick Jones at two, followed by Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson Jr., and finally Dawand Jones to round out his top five. He also mentioned Cody Mauch and Matthew Bergeron in a discussion about some later-round prospects, but did not mention by name Anton Harrison, whom most have ranked in the top five tackle prospects.

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