If you have tuned in to the most recent season of Last Chance U, you were sure to have gotten familiar with the Laney College football program, Coach John Beam and all the fantastic football players who had dawned the Eagles uniform. Among the most prominent members of the series was star cornerback Rejzohn Wright, a highly talented defensive back who would choose to follow his older brother Nahshon, as a member of the Oregon State Beavers.
Nahshon had starred for the Laney Eagles the year prior, leading to his lone Power Five offer, which he ultimately accepted to play for the Beavers over other offers including Boise State, San Jose State, Hawaii and San Diego State. The 2019 season would serve as a big opportunity for Nahshon, his first at the Division I level. As is true of most players, there is an adjustment period, both as an athlete and student.
“The pace was crazy different. I had to learn the game of football from the corner position all over again at the new speed,” Wright responded. “I had to slow the game down with the mental part of the game. Plus school work was super important.”
Despite the jump in competition, Wright would quickly assert himself amongst the team’s best defenders as a sophomore in 2019, posting three interceptions and five pass breakups on top of his 34 total tackles.
Listed at 6-4 and 187 pounds on the team’s site, Nahshon Wright is a hard man to miss on the field. The further the season went along, the more the opposition began avoiding Wright entirely.
The 2019 season would establish a ton of glimpses of big things to come. A lot was expected heading into the 2020 season - until the COVID-19 pandemic threatened all of college football and specifically the PAC-12 conference. After an initial move to spring, the conference would return in an abbreviated state.
Despite the limited opportunity, Wright would again star for the Beavers talented secondary. In just six contests, he would intercept two passes, break up an additional six and record 30 total tackles leading to an All PAC-12 Honorable Mention selection.
After back-to-back successful seasons, Nahshon had an opportunity that he had been thinking about for a long time, the chance to declare early for the 2021 NFL Draft and officially join the professional ranks. Looking over his time over his two years, Wright’s experience against some of the top pass-catchers (both in practice and on Saturdays) in college football prepared him for this jump in competition.
“For me I love it. I like Competition. I was able to guard Isaiah (Hodgins) quite a bit. That prepared me for the Brandon Aiyuks and Frank Darbys. I'm a competitive guy so playing against the best is awesome.”
Comparing the 2020 film to 2019, not much changed for Wright physically. From a technical and confidence standpoint, it was apparent just how more comfortable he had become during his Junior campaign.
When asked about where these improvements were made, Wright went in depth about several areas that had allowed for him to put together such a fantastic season.
“The mental part definitely. It's 90 percent of football and it slows the game down for you. Then your talent can show. I definitely improved in off coverage and at the line of scrimmage. I showed my physicality in tackling.”
For some, Wright may have been somewhat of a surprise early entrant into the 2021 NFL Draft class. For people who had seen the film, however, it wasn’t much of a surprise. With a player of this physical skill set, the upside and possibilities are hard to pass up.
During his two year career for the Beavers, Wright had shown the level of talent the 6-4 cornerback possesses. As he turns the next chapter of his football career, he now leaves his younger brother Rejzohn ready to fill into the large shoes that he leaves.
Reminiscing of the opportunity to play once again with his brother, he was sure that their time together left them both in a better place.
“That was fun, I was able to teach him. I was just watching him grow and talking football with him all the time since we live together. He became a better kid.”
It will be interesting to see if Rejzohn will soon rejoin Nahshon at the next level. For now, the older brother is left to impress NFL evaluators and make what was once a childhood dream and reality.
FROM A SCOUT’S EYE
NFL teams clamor for length at the cornerback position. “Disrupting the catch point” is a common phrase you will hear from evaluators and it is something that is littered all over Wright’s film. Estimated at 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds, he will become one of the taller cornerbacks in the NFL the day he steps foot on the field. Working vertically, that type of size profile certainly comes in handy.
Playing mostly man coverage while at Oregon State, Wright played almost exclusively with his back to the football. This affects a defensive back’s ability to maintain vision and come off for underneath concepts and interception opportunities typically.
Even while in man, Wright does an outstanding job feeling what is happening around him. Here he comes off of his responsibility and forces a huge turnover - an uncommon skill for a defender.
From a physical perspective, Wright fits that Seattle Seahawks Cover Three profile well. While he doesn’t have much evidence of playing this specific coverage on film, flashes like this are sure to encode interest from Pete Carroll and his disciples across the league.
Even when Wright isn’t perfect at the line of scrimmage, his length allows him to get back in the play even while playing in trail. When he opens up and runs, you see that he is a gifted athlete who puts his track and field background to good use. Combining plus straight line speed with a 6’3 frame is a dangerous combination. Here Wright is able to make a phenomenal pass breakup in the end zone, showing how much his physical profile provides him some margin for error.
Things you would assume taller cornerbacks would struggle with? Easy answer - changing direction. That’s why you don’t typically see longer corners in a ton of off man coverage. With those long limbs, you usually see some slower initial movements and clunky transitions. You don’t see that on Wright’s film. Oregon State has no issue playing him in off, showing the adequate foot quickness and fluidity to break quickly on underneath routes.
Somewhat of a surprise early declaration into the 2021 NFL Draft, Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright is still a player that the majority of Draft media is still getting acquainted with. Wright’s physical profile is a bit of an outlier so his projection will be a tricky one for some. There are preconceived notions that will have to be brought to question, evaluated and discussed for teams to become comfortable with.
When popping on the Oregon State film, those question marks over ability to change direction, flexibility and long speed are quickly thrown out. Wright is not your common stiff lengthy cornerback who is limited solely to a Cover Three based system to hide a multitude of his shortcomings.
Star Beavers pass rusher Hamilcar Rashed Jr. has been a player that has been discussed heavily in Draft circles. There are some that believe he has top two round potential come April.
Then there’s running back Jermar Jefferson who had a fantastic season and could be amongst the biggest risers at the position throughout the process. Everyone loves hot takes so here’s a good one for you - when all is said and done, Nahshon Wright could be the first Oregon State player selected during the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL teams, both man and zone alike, will clamor to his tantalizing skill set with huge expectations for just how good he can become with NFL experience.