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2022 NFL Draft Profile: Oregon CB Mykael Wright

While limited at CB, kickoff return ability gives Broncos day-three value

NCAA Football: Oregon at UCLA
Oregon CB Mykael Wright played mostly boundary cornerback and returned kicks for the Ducks.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you want the big, fast, long cornerback aesthetic, Mykael Wright isn’t your guy. If you want an ultra-quick nickel to keep the likes of Hunter Renfrow and Keenan Allen at bay, Wright isn’t your guy, either. He simply doesn’t have the elite traits to match up on a consistent basis with quality NFL wide receivers. He’s not nearly as physically imposing as Pat Surtain II, as quick as still-free agent Bryce Callahan nor as fast as Ronald Darby — all things that can’t be coached into the Oregon product and former four-star recruit.

Height: 5-10

Weight: 173 pounds

40-time: 4.57 seconds

His kickoff-return ability is intriguing, however, especially with the departure of Dionte Spencer. There’s a void to be filled at returner in Denver; KJ Hamler is a popular name to fill that spot, but his injury history might have new special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes weary of putting the speedster back deep. As a true freshman in 2019, Wright returned multiple kicks back for touchdowns, including a 100-yarder versus USC, with pure speed — contrary to what his NFL Combine 40-time shows.

Wright isn’t helpless in coverage, though, and he has ball skills to get interceptions and put Russell Wilson back on the field. In his battles with Ohio State’s likely sure-fire first-round WR Chris Olave in Week 2, Olave mostly had his way, but Wright wasn’t a liability. Suffice to say, when Wright was playing off coverage, Olave ate underneath. When Wright came closer, Olave hauled in a 40-yard reception on a go route, but Wright was right (no pun intended) in his hip pocket. Wright also played with an edge to him in the matchup — on a routine curl route midway through the first quarter, Wright shoved Olave after the play, seemingly telling the route-running maestro to bring it on and that he was up for the task. Oregon won the game, but Olave did win most battles — albeit closely.

Wright played strictly boundary corner against the Buckeyes to whichever WR lined up on his side. He gave up a walk-in touchdown against Ohio State WR Garrett Wilson, in which he was looking at a play call on his wristband and the other likely first-round Buckeye wideout just ran right past him. On a 4th-and-3 early in the fourth quarter, Ohio State QB C.J. Stroud found Wilson for a 20-yard catch and conversion, but on the other side of the field, Olave had Wright beat for a touchdown because Wright banked on Olave stopping short, which didn’t happen. Later in the fourth quarter, Stroud overthrew Wilson on a go route after he created four yards of separation on Wright — an on-target ball would’ve been a touchdown.

In almost 10 targets against the two WRs, Wright had just one pass breakup.

Pros:

  • Dynamic kick returner
  • Ball skills
  • Fearless in run support
  • Not afraid of contact
  • Chippy

Cons:

  • Small, especially for a boundary CB
  • Not many (if any) elite physical tools/traits
  • Didn’t win many battles against top WRs
  • Lapses in awareness/focus
  • Unsuccessfully guesses and jumps routes
  • Misses too many tackles

Final thoughts:

The Oregon CB shouldn’t be considered before at least the fifth round. While not the best cover corner, it wouldn’t hurt for the Broncos’ fifth or sixth corner on the roster to impact special teams in the return game, a place Denver has struggled to find consistent production from since the Trindon Holliday days.