2016 NFL Draft: Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
LB Scooby Wright (6’0 | 246 | 4.84)
On paper Wright looks more like a DII prospect than an NFL early round pick, but his production has been off the charts in his career at Arizona. The former walk-on has been an absolute force off the edge for the Wildcats the last two seasons. As a sophomore Wright led the NCAA with 29 tackles for loss, 6 forced fumbles, and led all OLBs with 14.5 sacks.
Wright doesn’t have the prototypical size, strength, or speed to be an NFL player but his college production is so ridiculous that he will hear his name called at some point on day 1 or 2 of this years draft. The Wildcats play an unusual 3-3-5 defensive scheme which may make it difficult to project a position for Wright, at the next level, but a guy with his hustle, nose for the football, and ability to make plays will find a spot in the NFL.
His elite instincts remind me a bit of Wisconsin’s Chris Borland whose football instincts were more important than his lack of size, speed, or strength and led to his producing one of the best rookie years for any ILB. Most team’s think Wright will end up as an ILB as well and could possibly be a target of Bears DC Vic Fangio who pushed hard for the Niners brass to draft Borland in 2014. Whoever gets Wright will get a steal regardless of where he ends up in the draft.
Projection: 1st-3rd round
WR Cayleb Jones (6’3 | 215 | 4.57)
Former transfer from Texas who had some off-field issues (assault) but broke out in 2014 with a 73 reception, 1,019 yard, 9 TD season, but couldn’t match that production last year. Jones wasn’t bad with 51 catches, 722 yards, and 4 TDs but would have gone higher in the draft had Jones come out after his junior season.
Jones still has considerable draft value with excellent size, reliable hands and good enough speed to get open at the NFL level. He needs to improve his route running and ability to make back shoulder catches in the red zone as that is where he’ll be used most often. Jones can be a solid possession receiver between the 20’s, but developing his red zone skills could make him a steal on day 3.
Projection: 5th-7th round
G/T Lene Maiava (6’6 | 290 | 5.25)
Wasn’t projected as much of an NFL prospect coming into the season, but Maiava moved all over the O-line this season and played well at multiple positions. He was a powerful run blocker, especially at guard, and didn’t embarrass himself in pass pro either. Maiava probably doesn’t have the foot speed to play outside, but has good power and aggressiveness inside and could become a solid interior run blocker in the NFL.
Projection: 6th-7th round
Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports
SS Will Parks (6’1 | 195 | 4.62)
Plays in Arizona’s unusual 3-3-5 alignment so it is difficult to project how that will translate to NFL schemes. Parks played a hybrid OLB / SS role and excelled in it, but may be too small for OLB in the NFL and too slow for safety. What Parks can do is hit and somebody will find a spot for him on special teams at least and it wouldn’t surprise me if he earned some safety snaps eventually.
Projection: 7th round – UDFA
DE Reggie Gilbert (6’3 | 262 | 4.97)
A tweener who is too slow to be an edge-rusher, may not be big enough to hold the edge as a strong-side run stopper, and is probably not agile enough to be a standup 3-4 OLB. Despite the lack of a clear position, Gilbert uses his long arms well to do a surprisingly good job shedding blockers, can anchor and hold his ground against much bigger tackles, and moves very well laterally to stop the run. A team with a hybrid defensive scheme (like the Bears) may find some use for Gilbert.
Next: New Mexico Propects