Oakland Raiders Might Want Target An Arizona Linebacker In Second Round

Sep 26, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) during the fourth quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Arizona Stadium. UCLA won 56-30. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2015; Tucson, AZ, USA; Arizona Wildcats linebacker Scooby Wright III (33) during the fourth quarter against the UCLA Bruins at Arizona Stadium. UCLA won 56-30. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oakland Raiders, for all of their upgrades in free agency, still find themselves in need of an inside linebacker – and a University of Arizona product might just fit that bill.

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Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie has had a pretty fantastic offseason thus far. But as eyes turn away from free agency and toward the NFL Draft, there are still needs that need to be addressed. Given that the team didn’t hotly pursue any inside linebackers, the thinking is that they’ll look to draft one. And one name they may want to give serious consideration to is Arizona’s Scooby Wright.

Wright is just the sort of under the radar gem that McKenzie looks for in some of the mid-to-later rounds of the draft. And he’s done a pretty decent job of unearthing them in players like Latavius Murray (sixth round), Travis Carrie (seventh round), and Justin Ellis (fourth round), among others.

While Wright isn’t projected to be anywhere near the first round, there are a number of teams out there who have started to take notice of him despite a relatively poor showing at the Combine – Wright did subsequently “redeem” himself with a better showing at his pro day.

The knock on Wright is in regard to his measurables – his 40 time, vertical jump, broad jump, and all. But what those measurables don’t factor in – and the thing that some scouts are really taking notice of – are his unmeasurables and intangibles. That’s the thing that will likely see him taken well ahead of his fourth round projection.

Wright has a natural nose for the ball. The instincts he has can’t be taught – and often can’t be measured in any quantifiable sense. He is just able to put himself in the right place, at the right time, to make a play.

Injury robbed him of most of his junior season at Arizona, limiting him to just three games on the year. But his sophomore season was mind-blowingly amazing and showed exactly what he brings to the table. For the 2014 season, Wright amassed an incredible 164 tackles – an eye popping 31 for a loss – and 15 sacks.

Pro Football Focus senior analyst Steve Palazzolo, in a recent three-round mock had Wright going to the Raiders in the second round. Of Wright, he wrote:

"“Wright battled injury in 2015, but he was a force in the run game in 2014, posting the nation’s second-best grade. His play-recognition skills are excellent, and they make up for his subpar athleticism. He should be a strong run defender and viable zone coverage defender at the next level.”"

The Raiders have addressed all of their glaring needs via free agency, save one – they still need an inside linebacker. Though Ben Heeney did a nice job in the middle – as did Malcolm Smith when called upon – Wright might just be an upgrade at the position, with potentially better skills in coverage. Or at the very least, a valuable rotational piece.

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The big thing McKenzie and the Raiders have going for them as they prepare for the draft, is that they don’t have to find players to be “the guy.” at any one position. They are likely looking for players who can add some depth now and can be groomed to eventually take over a position – and Wright would seem to fit that bill.

Last year, McKenzie took a lot of heat for taking a very calculated risk by using his second round pick on Mario Edwards Jr. The talking heads and draft “experts” all seemed shocked that Oakland would use the thirty-fifth overall pick on a guy with so many negatives attached to him coming out of college and widely panned the pick.

Well, here we are a year later and McKenzie’s foresight and smart scouting seems to have paid off as Edwards – once he can get healthy – is a valued member of Oakland’s defensive front who brings a lot of intensity and aggressiveness.

Next: Raiders Getting Ducks In A Row Ahead Of Draft

With the forty-fourth overall pick, the Raiders should give serious consideration to bolstering their linebacker group by adding Wright. At the very least, they should consider trading back in the second around, adding another pick, and snagging him.

The buzz he’s generating as an “under the radar” gem of a prospect seems to indicate that he’s not that “under the radar” and might not last as long on the draft board as some seem to believe.