Scooby Wright III has quickly built himself from a two-star linebacker recruit to a household name. Wright earned his way into the Arizona starting lineup as a freshman in 2013. Starting in 12 of 13 games that season, Wright managed 43 solo tackles (83 combined tackles) and 9.5 TFL. Wright then put up one of the best sophomore seasons in memory, tallying 99 solo tackles (164 combined tackles), 31 TFL, and 15 sacks. This outstanding year earned Wright the Lombardi, Bednarik and Nagurski awards. Wright was also the first ever true sophomore ever named PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year. On top of all this, he garnered enough respect to finish ninth in the Heisman voting.
However, all hero stories need to travel through the darkness, and Wright's darkness was the 2015 season. He only played in two games through the regular season with a meniscus tear and then a foot injury. He made his triumphant return by appearing, and starring in, the New Mexico Bowl. In his last chance before declaring for the NFL Draft, Wright impressed with 15 total tackles, including two sacks and 2.5 TFL. Wright was able to get through the injury and show that he was still a disruptive force.
Still, his NFL projection has been hard to figure. ESPN and others have projected Wright in the third round at best. On the other hand, some raters have placed him at the back part of the first round. Wright was a monster in 2014 and was not on the field enough in 2015 to get a fair idea of where he should stand.
On the positive side, Scooby Wright is a sure tackler. He has that high motor and chip on the shoulder so common in two-star athletes. As a demonstration of how much he has internalized his underdog role, he has a tattoo of David and Goliath on his left arm. However, despite his lack of recruiting interest, Scooby is an athlete. Wright participated in the SPARQ testing in high school and earned a 103.98 overall score. That score was good enough for 124th overall (and was higher than Tebow or Reggie Bush in previous years). At the time, Wright ran a 4.88-second 40-yard dash (though he claims to have been clocked at 4.65), a 4.36 second 20 yard shuttle, a 37.4 inch vertical jump and a Kneeling Power Ball Toss of 37.0 feet. At this year's NFL Scouting Combine, Wright did himself no favors, placing the slowest 40 time among inside linebackers (4.90 seconds). He had a 31 inch vertical jump (placing him just a half inch below Reggie Ragland) and showed good upper body strength with 22 bench reps.
Beyond the pure numbers, however, Wright has great play recognition and great power. Additionally, Wright has great hand work and pass rushing skills. If drafted by the Packers, his ability to beat blocks could give him an advantage over Jake Ryan.
For the downside, Wright is hardly the fastest linebacker. For comparison to Wright's 4.90 second 40 time, Joshua Perry has a 4.68 and Reggie Ragland put up a 4.72. For an inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, his speed is not ideal. The only hope is that he can show a better time at his pro day on March 24th. The other problem is the injury problems from the 2015 season. There is almost no tape for Wright from this season. The return from injury could explain some of Wright's poor Combine. Yet, he complained he was playing heavy after returning from injury for the New Mexico Bowl and was in at a light 239 pounds at the Combine.
Scooby Wright will be a name to watch in the draft. He could go anywhere from the second to the fourth round. He is clearly a talented player, but it never helps to miss a full season of football. The Packers have been fairly willing to draft players who fall based on injury fears in the past (to varied degrees of success and failure). Wright could be the next pick to bolster the center of the Packers defense.