As the 2010 NFL Draft was falling I'll admit I was hoping Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett would make it to Chicago at #75. After he was plucked by the Packers I was initially ticked off, but then I realized that the Bears would most definitely be selecting Major Wright, and I was OK with that. In fact I was more than OK after taking some time to think about it.
Burnett flew up draft boards after running a forty that told GM's he had the speed to play free safety, whereas Wright played FS at Florida (much of the time as the lone safety back in their Cover 1 defense) and ran about as good as Burnett did. In fact almost every scout and prospect ranking site had Wright rated ahead of Burnett until the Georgia Tech pro day. So all the film on the two players equaled Wright being the better prospect, but then a few hundredths of a second shaved off a 40 yard dash gives Burnett the edge? I bought into the hype too. But now I'm geeked to see Wright in action for the Bears.
His obvious pro home will be free safety and with the acquisition of Chris Harris we're all hoping the safety tandem will be the two of them with Harris starting at SS. Harris has already expressed a desire to take the young Wright under his wing, much like Mike Brown did to Harris when Harris was a rookie. If Wright can show enough to win the starting job Lovie Smith will throw the rookie out there. Lovie has always shown a willingness to play his young safeties.
As of now Wright is down the depth chart, but I think once the pads get on his athleticism and big hit capabilities will shine through. Most NFL experts think Wright can step in as a rookie and start, and while I'm sure that's a slight knock on the talent the Bears have at safety, I really think his skill set translates well to what the Bears do defensively.
Some snippets from the scouting report from CBSSports.com:
Read & React: Can key and diagnose. Reads the action quickly and gets there with efficient footwork and good straight-line speed. Plenty of range for coverage over the deep half. Struggled with questionable angles early in his career but showed improvement in 2009.
Zone Coverage: Tall in his backpedal, though he has good balance and relatively loose hips to turn and run. Good acceleration and straight-line speed to cover his area. Experienced and alert in zone coverage.
Closing/Recovery: Good straight-line speed and shows a nice burst to close. Times his hits well to arrive just as the ball does, resulting in some impressive, physical pass breakups. Protected a bit by this scheme and the Gator pass rush, but understands his role as the last line of defense. Good range to prevent the big play. Has improved his angles to limit the damage.
The consensus from scouts is that he's a great fit for a team that runs a lot of zone coverage. Great for Chicago, because we all know the Bears like keeping their safeties in zone and rarely will match their free safety up man to man, which is something he does need to work on.
Wright is durable and experienced. A broken thumb couldn't keep him off the field his first year as he started 7 games as a true freshman at Florida (33 starts at FS in all), and played in every game of his college career. He's self aware of his play which is evidenced by him making notable improvements in his game every year he was in Gainsville. Had he played his senior year he very well could have been a 1st round prospect. He left with one year of eligibility remaining and his NFL ceiling is very high. By him coming out in a draft deep with secondary talent it really helped the Bears. I'm expecting a good year from Wright.