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Prospecting for Gold: Kendall Wright, WR

Why, in a series trying to focus on all types of draft prospects but especially the under-the-radar types, would I focus on a guy who is so highly touted in this draft class and is, depending on the source, the second or third best receiver in this draft class? Because as much as his name gets thrown around threads on here every day, it seems that a lot of people just don't know much about him. They see "5'10" speedster" and think he's Johnny Knox 2.0. Well I thought I'd post a lot of information on him from reports and show he's more than that and definitely worth the 19th overall pick if the draft falls that way.

Kendall Wright broke onto the national scene at Baylor last fall with a lot of help from QB RGIII. Wright was the leading receiver on a potent offense. Standing at only 5'10" I can see masses of Bears fans rolling their eyes and saying "No, not another midget receiver!" But before you quit reading, I implore you to hear me out.

Some of his strengths courtesy of Draftace:

Elite speed; can consistently stretch the field. A playmaker with the ball in his hands; quick and shifty; elusive in the open field. Does a nice job adjusting to poorly thrown balls. Experienced and efficient running a variety of routes; can stretch the field with his pure speed, but also uses quickness to get open on other shorter routes. Tough for his size; not afraid to go across the middle. Reliable hands and good technique; catches the ball away from his body and then brings it in. Good fundamentals as a runner; secures the ball. Elite all-around athlete; played basketball at Baylor as a freshman.

The biggest differences to Knox that I have read in the reports, is route-running, physicality and hands. FroM CBSsports:

Hands: A savvy, natural hands-catcher with reliable hands and very good focus. A natural plucker who snatches the ball out of the air and shows the concentration to make acrobatic catches look easy. Does a nice job locating and tracking deep passes and is a legitimate vertical threat. Will go up and attack the ball, catching the ball in stride and quickly getting downfield ? looks to score every time he touches the ball. Has smallish hands and will have some drops.

Route running: Has a knack for getting open and is a quarterbacks? best fiend ? passers just need to toss the ball in his area and he?ll come down with it. A versatile weapon, proving to be effective inside in the slot and outside on the perimeter. Makes plays at all levels of the field. Still improving as a route runner and needs to do a better job selling his path ? needs to sell slants and in-cuts better. lists him as a good match for the Bears:

The Jets, Bears and Titans all need receivers with a big-play element for their offenses.

Another thing, from CBS, that has gotten me sold on Wright, was that his "Intangibles" paragraph on his report was the largest part of the report:

Intangibles: Fearless over the middle and does a lot of his damage between the hashmarks. Wants the ball more than anyone else on the field. Confident and tough, playing through several injuries over his career. There is a lot to love about his effort and drive a top competitor who gives full effort on every snap. A fiery leader who plays with football intensity and determination [sic] type of player who will run through a wall for his team. Smart and shows elite feel and focus for the position. Has very good starting experience (42 starts), leading Baylor in receiving all four years of his college career. A versatile weapon (former high school quarterback) with 2 career passing touchdowns, 2 rushing scores and experience as a returner on special teams. Extremely productive over his college career, holding almost every school receiving record and finishing his time at Baylor with 302 catches, 4,004 yards (13.3), 30 receiving touchdowns and 19 career 100+ yd receiving performances had at least two catches in every game Baylor played the past four years (50 games). Has some durability concerns, battling through ankle, shoulder and knee injuries as a senior. Has received penalties in the past for excessive celebration and needs to keep his emotions under control. Played in a high-tempo, spread offense with the Heisman Trophy winner as his quarterback so his statistics might be inflated a tad.

I love Knox as much as a lot of fans, but his route-running has been questioned for a long time, as well as his ability to fight for the ball and come down with it in traffic. Wright, at least on paper, sounds like a harder-nosed Knox who is closer as a rookie to being a polished route-runner than Knox will be in year four.

Wright could come in and compliment the pieces the Bears already have in Marshall and Bennett and answer some of the questions left by Knox's injury concerns. The Bears have no reason to pass up Wright if he falls to them on April 26th.