The obvious comparisons to Height and Speed are there.
|Santana Moss||5' 9 ½"||181 lbs.||4.31s|
|Jarius Wright||5' 9 ⅝"||182 lbs.||SEE BELOW ↓|
Wright ran a 4.41 at the Combine [hand-timed as low as 4.39s] and stood on that number at his Pro Day. However, Arkansas coaches say he was once clocked a 4.27 during a 2011 Razorbacks spring practice/last years Arkansas pro day. While that is not an electronically recorded time which makes it likely a low 4.3 instead that’s still more than impressive as anything under 4.4 is good enough to consistently separate in the NFL and provide the deep threat. His combine numbers were a little slow but I would like to point out players don’t always run their fastest time when their on that kind of stage and so nervous to perform in what is basically their biggest job interview of their life. Look at Kendall Wright for example. Most Razorback fans were shocked that Wright ran so slow at the combine after seeing him play much faster for four seasons. Many figured Wright's time would be about 4.33ish at the combine and IMO he is more 4.3 speed on tape. Maybe not quite as fast as Moss was but comparable for sure.College production is similar:
Wright left Arkansas as the school’s all-time career leader in receiving yards (2,934) and receptions (168) and ranked second in career receiving touchdowns (24) in school history.
Moss left Miami as the school's all-time career leader in receiving yards (2,546), punt return yards (1,196), and all-purpose yards (4,394). Topping one of the most accomplished wide receivers in the university's history Michael Irvin's mark of 2,423 yards set in 1985-87. Moss also ranked third in career receptions (143) and career touchdown receptions (19) in school history.
Both Moss and Wright were deep threats in college and their average yards per catch proves it.
Moss is known as a Redskin and has been a staple in Washington for quite some time now but he actually was drafted by the New York Jets in the first round (16th overall) in 2001. In his rookie year he was inactive for 11 games due to torn cartilage in his left knee, an injury suffered in training camp. However in year two, his first real full year of playing he led the AFC with a 16.5-yard average on 25 punt returns including two touchdowns. At receiver he still didn't see much time (Played in 15 games, with three starts) but had 30 receptions for 433 yards (14.4 avg.) and four touchdowns.
-This is sort of what many expect from Wright early on in his career. Someone who probably will have a bigger role as a punt returner than as a receiver early. He won't start at receiver but he can contribute and make some plays as a rookie with his game changing speed giving him the ability to stretch the field.
The following two years he took off as a receiver. In 2003, Moss crossed over the 1,000-yard receiving mark for the first time in his career with 1,105 yards (fifth in the AFC) and became just the sixth player in Jets history to catch 10 touchdowns in a season. In 2004, he led the team with 838 yards (18.6 avg.) and five touchdowns.
He played with the Jets through the 2004 season playing a total of 51 games with the team and accounting for 3,899 receiving yards, 19 touchdowns, and 1,799 return yards earning him All Pro honors in 2002.
Following the 2004 season, Moss was acquired by the Washington Redskins in a trade with the Jets for former Jet Laveranues Coles. In his first season with the Redskins he earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl. His 2005 season with the Redskins was the best in his professional career. Moss led the Redskins in receptions (84), receiving yards (1,483) and average yards per catch (17.7) and finishing second on the team with nine touchdowns. He finished second in the NFL in receiving yards (behind only Carolina's Steve Smith another small receiver like Wright). His receiving yards still stand as his career high and also stand as a franchise record in a single-season for the Redskins. In 2006, he caught 55 passes for 790 yards (14.4 avg.) and six touchdowns, which included a 68-yard overtime game-winning touchdown. In 2007, he led all Redskins receivers in receptions (61), receiving yards (808) and touchdowns (3). In 2008, he finished second on the Redskins in receptions (79) and led the team in receiving yards (1,044) and touchdown receptions (6). It was the third 1,000-yard receiving season of his career (second as a member of the Redskins). In 2009, Moss once again finished with a team-leading 70 receptions for 902 yards and three touchdowns. In 2010, Moss had 1,115 receiving yards making it the fourth time in his career that he recorded over 1,000 receiving yards.
Last season was Santana’s worst season as a starter since his 2002 season. Working mostly out of the slot receiver position, Moss grabbed 46 receptions for 584 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Moss played and started only 12 games due to an injured hand. While those numbers indicate he's near the end of his career they're also very similar to Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith's 2010 campaign. Like Smith, Moss looks to bounce back in 2012 with the upbeat play of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III or better yet known as RG3. It took a dynamic quarterback like Cam Newton to spark Steve Smith back into the dominant wide receiver he was in 2011. Smith finished the season with 79 catches, 1,379 yards and 7 touchdowns. In his first game he gained 178 yards, on 8 catches, including 2 touchdowns. Is it possible that RG3 can do the same to Santana Moss? There's a chance the Redskins can't afford to keep him around and would be forced to cut him due to the $18 million penalty the league imposed on them. Moss being released would save $3.15 million against their cap number. However, after cutting Jabar Gaffney it's likely they'll keep Moss for at least another season. That's all besides the point though.
The point is Santana Moss is the player I think Jarius Wright compares to most in terms of current or former NFL players.
Moss isn't the only short receiver to have played the game though. Another guy I think Wright's game and skill set emulates is Carolina Panther receiver Steve Smith. Smith was drafted the same year as Santana Moss but fell to the 3rd round (74th overall) due to concerns over his height I'm sure. Sound familiar...? Smith and Wright have a lot in common so let's compare them fully.
|Player||Height||Weight||40-yard dash||3-Cone Drill||20 Yard Shuttle||Vert||Broad|
|Steve Smith||5'9"||184 lbs.||4.41*||7.44s||4.25s||38 ½"||10'1"|
|Jarius Wright||5' 9 ⅝"||182 lbs.||4.41*||6.93s||4.03s||38"||10'|
* Steve Smith ran a official 4.41 at the combine [Hand timed as low as 4.39]. | Wright ran a disappointing 4.41 at the Combine [hand-timed as low as 4.39s] (God that is eerily similar isn't it?) but is more 4.33ish speed based on previous recorded times and evidenced by game tape and stats.
Like Moss, Smith's impact at first in this league came as a returner. Smith spent a majority of his rookie season as a kick and punt returner and led all rookies in net yardage with 1,994 yards. Smith had just 10 catches for 154 yards receiving. That didn't last long though as Smith earned a starting position at wide receiver yet continued to carry out his kickoff and punt return duties in his second season. He finished the year with 54 receptions for 872 yards and 3 touchdowns. During the young receiver's third season he played a critical role for the Panther's offense. He finished the regular season with 88 receptions for 1,110 yards and 7 touchdowns. During the NFC divisional playoffs however Smith caught a 69 yard pass and ran it for a touchdown in 2nd overtime to defeat the St. Louis Rams 29-23. In Super Bowl XXXVIII Smith caught 4 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown in the Panthers' 32-29 loss to the New England Patriots. He missed the 2004 season due to injury but came back twice as strong in 2005 when he led the NFL with 1,563 receiving yards, 103 receptions, and 12 touchdowns. Arguably the best receiver in the game Smith at times looked unstoppable.
He had another two strong seasons back to back with 83 catches for 1,186 yards and 8 touchdowns in 2006 and 87 catches for 1,002 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 2007. Despite playing with multiple starting quarterbacks Smith kept his production high. In 2008, he led the NFL in receiving yards per game and caught 78 passes for 1,421 receiving yards and 6 touchdowns despite serving a 2-game suspension for punching his teammate in training camp. In 2009, Smith finished the year just 18 yards shy of a 5th straight 1,000 yard receiving season catching 65 passes for 982 yards and 7 touchdowns. In 2010, Smith had by far his worst season as a starter since 2002. Although he led the team in both receptions and receiving yards, he only managed 46 catches for 554 yards. Much of the blame could be placed on his quarterback Jimmy Clausen. Under Clausen the Panthers finished last in most offensive categories and with a 2-14 record, which was the worst in the 2010 season, securing the 1st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. With that pick the Panther's selected Auburn QB Cam Newton, the Heisman winner, and it's just what Smith needed to revive his career. Smith opened up the 2011 season strong, gaining 178 yards and 2 touchdowns on 8 catches, including a 77-yard reception for a touchdown. He finished the season catching 79 passes from Cam for 1,394 yards and 7 touchdown receptions. He became just the 35th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000-yard receiving mark and is one catch away from reaching the 700 reception mark. Smith may not have the size as other great receivers to play in the NFL but make no doubt about it he is one of the most dangerous receivers of all time.
Despite Jarius Wright and Steve Smith being almost identical in stature and their combine numbers being eerily similar many still compared the other receiver named Wright that came out of this draft class, as in Kendall Wright, to Steve Smith but I feel Jarius is the right Wright when talking about who reminds me more of Smith. Kendall dominated the competition in the Big 12 -- in much thanks to his Heisman winning quarterback -- but those defenses he faced were a couple of steps below what he would have encountered had he been in the SEC like Jarius.
Jarius didn't let the SEC competition stop him though as he dominated the SEC in 2011 and throughout his career. (See Quick Hits at the bottom.) Given how many teams felt Kendall Wright was worth a 1st round pick and has enough potential to be a #1 NFL wide receiver why haven't we heard the same things about Wright. After all he put up comparable numbers against much tougher competition and he didn't have RG3 throwing him the ball. Plus Jarius tested better in the pre-draft process and put up better or equal numbers at the combine. I'm just baffled by how Wright is considered that much better of a prospect over Jarius. Both Wrights are similarly built as well so there's really no place that Kendall has the edge over Jarius in my eyes.
While some of you may not remember the careers of Steve Smith and/or Santana Moss fondly I think everyone is aware of just how good Pittsburgh Steeler's receiver Mike Wallace is right now. Wallace is in the prime of his career and is the kind of game changing talent teams covet from the receiver position. With the ability to take the top off the defense he is arguably the greatest threat a defense faces in the NFL. Surprisingly enough Wallace is yet another similar prospect to Wright coming out of college recently having played in the SEC also.
|Player||Height||Weight||40-yard dash||3-Cone Drill||20 Yard Shuttle||Vert||Broad||Bench Reps||Arm Span||Hand Length|
|Mike Wallace||6'0"||199 lbs.||4.33*||6.90s||4.27s||40"||10'9"||14||31 ⅜"||9"|
|Jarius Wright||5' 9 ⅝"||182 lbs.||4.41*||6.93s||4.03s||38"||10'||11||31 ½"||8 ½"|
* Wallace ran a official 4.33 at the combine [Hand timed as low as 4.28]. | Wright ran a disappointing 4.41 at the Combine [hand-timed as low as 4.39s] but is more 4.33ish speed based on previous recorded times and evidenced by game tape and stats.
Overall Wallace has better measurables for the NFL, albeit by a small margin, and had a better showing at the Combine so it's to no surprise he was selected higher [3rd round (84th overall)] in the draft. However, they're still very similar in terms of their talents and ability on the field so I think we should take a look at who produced more in college.
Comparing Wallace's 2006 to Wright's 2008 season you see how similar they are coming into college and then compare Wallace's 2007 to Wright's 2009 and Wallace's 2008 to Wright's 2010 and you see how they developed very much in the same way. The numbers are almost identical. While Wallace chose to leave early and Wright stayed for his Senior year overall they compare very favorably.
The Steeler's were able to take full advantage of Wallace's speed making him a lethal deep threat even as a rookie in the NFL. While overall Wallace's rookie stats didn't jump off the page at you he did show some signs of things to come as he led the entire league in average yards per reception with 19.4 yards. The next year he finished 3rd in the AFC in yards and established himself as one of the NFL's elite deep threats.
That's besides the point though as I'm comparing them as prospects coming out of college not comparing the NFL Wallace to Wright but the Ole Miss Wallace to Wright. I'm not saying Wright compares to Wallace entirely even. Wallace can play outside at split end where Wright is more of a flanker and slot guy. I'm not trying to imply that Wright will end up as our #1 receiver either. Heck I'm not even saying he'll do as well as Wallace did as a rookie necessarily. I am saying that Wright can bring the same deep threat ability to our team that Wallace brought to the Steelers though because the numbers don't lie.
Another player Wright sort of compares to is Antonio Brown. Another Pittsburgh Steeler receiver who's a bit small (5'10" 186lbs.), didn't perform very well at the Combine, and due to this fell in the draft [6th round (195th overall)]. Despite all that Brown has been able to come in and be effective at the next level fairly early in his career. He didn't explode onto the NFL scene right away as a rookie just like Santana Moss and Steve Smith didn't, but in his second year he proved he is one of the better up-and-coming receivers in the league.
In 2011, Brown became the first player in NFL history to have more than 1,000 yards receiving and returning in the same year. He finished with 69 receptions for 1,108 yards (16.1avg) and two receiving touchdowns. He also racked up 737 (27.3avg) kick return yards + 325 (10.8avg) punt return yards for a total of 1,062 return yards. He brought back one punt for a touchdown. While Brown's college numbers don't compare to Wright -- he was really effective against lesser competition at Central Michigan and caught 98, 93, and 110 passes for 980, 998, 1,198 yards in his three seasons there -- their similar build and speed as well as the role the Vikings plan to use Wright in (returner/receiver) make this a good comparison.
I realize all the stats and comparisons in the world don't amount to a hill of beans and ultimately it'll fall on Wright's shoulders to determine what kind of pro he is going to be but the similarities between these guys should give Viking fans hope. Santana Moss, Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown are just a few names that I could pull off the top of my head but they are not the only short receivers to have success in the NFL. Truth is there has been many small(er) receivers that have come into the league and had success in the NFL despite lacking ideal height for the position. I don't see any reason why Jarius Wright won't follow suit and be the next.
So what should the Vikings expect from Wright?
Many just want to pigeonhole him as a slot guy and basically another Percy Harvin. However I want to caution that perception. Yes he's got some of the same quick-twitch traits, not so much unlike Harvin, which makes plugging Wright into that multifaceted slot role on offense a good possibility at some point but to say he's only a slot receiver is wholly untrue.
He's more of a pure receiver then people realize. Wright as a perimeter route runner is much more refined coming out than Harvin was. Wright is a deep threat who is just as willing to work the middle of the field as he is the outside. Like a Santana Moss or a Mike Wallace he'll give the Vikings that home run threat on vertical routes. Like a Harvin he can work the slot where he did most of his damage at Arkansas. When the team goes to three wide sets that will allow us to get creative with Harvin and where we line him up at if Wright can play in the slot. He'll also be an insurance policy for Harvin as well in case he's ever not able to suit up. Aside from that I believe he'll earn a role as a returner and take on those duties as well. He can do a lot actually.
"I think I can fit anywhere, as a special teams guy, punt returner, kick returner, and also as a receiver playing inside or outside." Wright said. "I think I have the skill set to play inside and outside at receiver."
Wright figures as a front-runner for punt-return duties right away. He wasn't used much as a returner at Arkansas due to standout Joe Adams but he is an option for NFL teams there based off his sound ball handling, quickness and most of all his long speed to take it the distance. Shows some lateral agility to make defenders miss but more than likely will need an open lane as a returner to break off a big gain.
As a receiver he'll line up mostly out of the slot but he can play Z or Flanker as well. Wright is a very quick player who is adept at separating from defenders out of his breaks, knowing how to sink his hips and explode out of his cuts, and he understands how to work out of the slot on underneath routes sitting down in the holes of zone defenses. However, he makes plays at all levels of the field and was a burner down the seams, constantly beating coverage over the top.
He has the foot quickness and balance to be a good route-runner and understands the angling aspect of route running and how to run in a way that he can create separation and be a wide open option for his quarterback. Does a good job setting up and selling his double moves beautifully. His experience running most of the NFL route tree at Arkansas should help him learn the playbook, understand concepts and be aware of defensive coverages, and come in and run sharp routes to beat those coverages in the NFL.
He has sure hands and generally uses his hands to make the reception. He also has made plenty of plays laying out for the ball and/or adjusting his body to reel it in.
He eats up the cushion quickly in "off" coverage and if allowed a free release he can blow by the defender and separate. However, where he might struggle a bit is getting off against press coverage. Being undersized means he'll likely be overmatched at the line of scrimmage where a defender can get their hands on him and jam his release and easily redirecting him which will disrupt the timing of his route. He does however have a very good initial burst and uses the initial buffer between himself and a defender to avoid jamming. If he learns how to beat the press and use his hands better to gain a quick release he should be effective despite being smaller.
In fact his only real weakness is that he's small, which is lame excuse people use. There are plenty of good small WR's in the NFL. Everyone I mentioned above plus how about Steve Smith from Carolina. I'm not one to fully knock a player and say he can't do it in the NFL just because of his height or size. Wright was simply one of the most explosive and best players in all of college football last year. He had 1,029 yards receiving on 63 receptions with 11 of them for touchdowns. All of them are single-season Arkansas records. Trust me, the first time Jarius takes one to the house in a game as a receiver or a returner nobody will care how tall he is.
- Wright was selected as a team captain for his senior campaign.
- He was honored as Arkansas' Most Valuable Player by seasons end.
- He was also named first-team All-SEC.
- He led the SEC in receiving yards (1,117) and touchdown receptions (12) during his senior season.
- He was one catch shy of tying Tennessee’s Da’Rick Rogers total of 67 for tops in the SEC.
- His totals also broke Arkansas' single season records for receptions with 66, receiving yards with 1,117 and receiving touchdowns with 12 despite him missing the Troy game.
- His 1,117 receiving yards ranked 19th on the SEC's single-season all time list.
- He led the SEC and ranked 18th in the NCAA with his average of 93.5 receiving yards per game.
- He had four 100+ yard receiving games, good for second most in the conference, and he missed two more by only 5 & 6 yards a piece (94 vs Tenn. and 96 vs Miss. St.) in back to back weeks.
- He had one 200+ yard receiving game.
- He ranked second in the SEC with 5.5 receptions per game.
- He had only one game where he didn't have multiple catches and only five games with fewer than 5 catches. (1,2,3,4,4,5,5,5,6,8,10,13)
- He had two games where he caught 10+ passes with his season high being 13 in that phenomenal game against Texas A&M.
- He broke the school's single-game record with 281 receiving yards and tied the school’s single-game receptions record with 13 against Texas A&M.
- His receptions total against the Aggies tied for the most by any SEC player in 2011. It was
the 14th-highest single-game total overall in the NCAA in 2011.
- His receiving yards total of 281 against Texas A&M was the second-highest in SEC history and third highest receiving yards total in the NCAA in 2011.
- His 281 yards against Texas A&M accounted for roughly 25% of his season total.
- 428 of his 1,117 yards, roughly 38%, came in a 4 week stretch against SEC opponent's Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi State.
- He had four games where he averaged over 20 yards per catch and six games averaging over 18. Overall Wright averaged 16.9 yards per catch on the season.
- He had three multiple touchdown games.
- He scored a touchdown in every game but three, or 9 out of 12 games he played in.
- He led the SEC, tied for seventh in the NCAA in touchdowns.
- He tied for eighth in overall scoring with an average of 6.2 points per game.
- His 12 receiving touchdowns was tied for the 11th-highest single-season total in SEC history.
Throughout his career:
- Wright left Arkansas as the school’s all-time career record holder in receptions (168) and receiving yards (2,934).
- His career receiving yards total also ranked fifth all-time in the SEC.
- His nine career 100+ yard receiving games was tied for the second-highest
total in Arkansas history.
- His 24 career receiving touchdowns ranked as the second-highest total
in school history, and tied for 15th all-time in the SEC.