After the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the Detroit Lions needed to find the defensive tackle of the future. The Lions may have just done that when they selected Auburn’s Gabe Wright in the 4th round of the 2015 NFL Draft. At 6’3″ and 300 lbs, Wright is surely an opposing force as far as size goes.
SLR: What are Gabe Wright’s strengths?
FWE: “Wright’s main strength is his upper body. He has a very strong upper body, as shown by his 34 repetitions on the bench press at the NFL Combine (good for 2nd-best among defensive linemen). He is also relatively quick, as he gets out of his stance quickly and has decent pursuit for someone his size. His 5.07 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine was good for 10th among defensive tackles. Wright spent much of the 2014 season as a defensive end (mainly due to Auburn’s lack of depth at the position following Carl Lawson’s injury). He didn’t stand out as a defensive end, but he had the quickness to play the position. His true home is at defensive tackle, however”
SLR: What are his weaknesses?
FWE: “The issue that plagued Gabe Wright throughout his career is inconsistency. At times, he was a dominant force that anchored the Tigers’ defensive line. At other times, he made no impact at all. Wright was a standout in Auburn’s wins over Ole Miss and Alabama in 2013. However, with great expectations going into the 2014 season after racking up 31 tackles, 8.5 TFL and 3 sacks in 2013, he underperformed greatly, with 7 fewer tackles and 4 fewer TFL. At times throughout the 2014 season, he would make his presence felt, but those times didn’t last.”
Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) looks downfield as he is pressured by Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Gabe Wright (90) at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports
SLR: Is Wright’s play similar to Nick Fairley’s in any way?
FWE: “Beyond both of them wearing #90 at Auburn, the two do share some similar traits. The main quality that Gabe Wright shares with Nick Fairley is quickness out of the stance. In his time at Auburn, Nick Fairley became known for his quick burst at the beginning of every play. In the 2010 Iron Bowl win at Alabama, Fairley got out of his stance so fast that he ran untouched past two offensive linemen, sacking Bama QB Greg McElroy and forcing a fumble, which he then recovered. Gabe Wright never exploded out of his stance so quickly that he made it through an offensive line untouched, but he is one of the fastest defensive tackles in this year’s NFL Draft class. His burst and strength, while not viewed by Auburn faithful as up to Nick Fairley’s incredibly lofty standards, are undeniable.”
SLR: What should Lions fans be excited about when it comes to Gabe Wright?
FWE: “To bring up Nick Fairley again, what Gabe Wright lacks in some areas on the field compared to Fairley is made up for by Wright’s lack of drama off of the field (which always plagued Fairley). Fairley had some off-field issues at Auburn and in Detroit. Gabe Wright, while at Auburn, never found himself ensnared in any off-field drama. He simply played some video games and ate Cheetos. That isn’t to make him sound lazy, but rather show that he has always shown a tendency to stay away from questionable decisions off the field. Another thing Lions fans should be excited about is Wright’s personality and drive. Everyone at Auburn that knows Gabe Wright loves him for his charm and humor, and he has a true passion for the game of football. He plays with enthusiasm and energy. He has always seemed truly happy when he’s playing football.”
Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Gabe Wright (90) celebrates after the 2013 SEC Championship game against the Missouri Tigers at Georgia Dome. The Auburn Tigers defeated the Missouri Tigers 59-42. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports
In my opinion, Wright will be a day 1 contributor. While far off from being a starter, Wright can provide solid depth and rotate in and out. He will have a great opportunity to learn from Haloti Ngata and Teryl Austin. In the future Wright can takeover as the starter once Ngata leaves.