Expectations for Darnell Wright's rookie season with Chicago Bears

Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

With the Chicago Bears taking Darnell Wright 10th overall in the 2023 NFL draft intention, it will be the sixth time since 2011 that a team has drafted a player in the top ten with the intention of playing them at right tackle. While five players are not the largest sample, it does give us a few baseline comparisons to work off of for what we can expect from the Tennessee right tackle.

Expectations for Chicago Bears and Darnell Wright in his rookie season

The tackles that were drafted to play right tackle are Lane Johnson, Jack Conklin, Mike McGlinchey, Penei Sewell, and Evan Neal. The good news is that Evan Neal is the only player who missed time with an injury, but all five were inserted into the lineup and were day-one starters as well as the week-17 starters.

On average, these five had 615 pass protection snaps as a rookie, with Evan Neal down at 534, and Lane Johnson having the most at 656. Darnell Wright had a career-high 507 snaps last season, but we all knew that you need to take that jump and that the games after Thanksgiving hit hardest for rookies. Still, Braxton Jones played every snap for the Bears and had 542 snaps. He is going to need to be ready for that jump.

On average, these five tackles averaged 1.6 penalties, with Penei Sewell leading the group at three, and Jack Conklin having zero. So, no penalties are the goal, but one or two will be fine. Three is a bit high, and four may be an issue for Darnell Wright. Last season Braxton Jones had three penalties, so while he was definitely on the high side, it is good to see he did not break that four-penalty problem.

These five averaged 6.2 sacks allowed as a rookie. Lane Johnson led the group with 11 allowed, and Jack Conklin only allowed two, a year where he was named All-Pro as a rookie. This is the sentence that fans need to read. Even when Lane Johnson gave up 11 sacks as a rookie, he was not a bust, so even if Darnell Wright struggles out of the gate, we cannot overreact. Now, in the past six seasons, Johnson allowed as many sacks as his rookie year.

Also, Braxton Jones allowed seven sacks. While that is above the average of these five, it is not too far out of whack and it is understandable why the coaches are interested to see more.

On average, these right tackles were allowing 7.8 hits and 29.4 hurries. Mike McGlinchey had 11 quarterback hits as a rookie, and Lane Johnson allowed 41 hurries. On the flip side, Jackson was at two quarterback hits, and Sewell only had 22 hurries.

Braxton Jones allowed four hits and 29 hurries, so he was below the average of all of these past rookies.

In total, Johnson allowed 60 pressures, and Conklin was at just 31. The average was 43.4, and Braxton Jones was at 40. Lastly, the overall pass efficiency rating per PFF was 95.7. Bratxon Jones was at 95.4, Evan Neal was at 94, and Conklin was at 97.

So, the first takeaway, although unintentional is that Braxton Jones was fine considering he was a rookie tackle. The other is that we cannot stress too much over a rookie season. Jack Conklin has remained solid, but this shows that his rookie season was leaps and bounds better than Lane Johnson, and Johnson became a franchise staple after an awful rookie season.

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However, a realistic baseline of stats for Darnell Wright should be 615 snaps in pass protection with two penalties, six sacks, eight hits, 29 hurries, 43 pressures, and a pass block efficiency rating of 95.7. We will see how Wright stacks up against those numbers.