Dallas Cowboys: Nahshon Wright looking more like a steal than a reach

Dallas Cowboys, Nahshon Wright (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys, Nahshon Wright (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

Many people were critical of the Dallas Cowboys for taking Nahshon Wright in the third round but the early returns show the franchise might’ve been right.

From seemingly panicking with their first-round pick and trading out of No. 10 with the Eagles through the other six rounds, there were few people who were positive about what the Dallas Cowboys did in the 2021 NFL Draft. But one of the biggest head-scratchers in the moment came at the end of the third round.

The last of three picks in Round 3, the Cowboys used the No. 99 overall selection to take Oregon State cornerback Nahshon Wright. While blessed with elite size and length, the former Beavers defensive back was projected as a late-Day 3 selection at best by most people. So for the Cowboys to take him in the top 100 seemed a bit ludicrous.

And most analysts questioned the pick right away. Shane Carter of Inside the Star graded the selection with a “C” but noted that it seemed like a “waste of a pick” at the moment. That’s pretty harsh criticism but it also seemed warranted, nor was he alone in that assessment. As training camp is now underway, though, the narrative around Wright is starting to turn.

Wright was one of the bright spots of rookie minicamp and OTAs but people were still skeptical if the raw prospect was ready to make an impact as a rookie. Early in training camp, however, he’s continuing to check boxes and turn heads.

Nahshon Wright could be the engine that turns the Dallas Cowboys secondary around.

Though there have been only a handful of practices in Oxnard so far, Nahshon Wright is a name that keeps popping up. On the first day of camp, the rookie made a handful of pass breakups that showcased his range due to his length. He was all over the field on a number of different types of routes and just seemed to have a nose for the football.

What was most impressive about Wright was the versatility he showed. The big knock on his game coming out of college was concern about his ability to cut and move at his size to where he would be able to make plays on comebacks and quick-breaking routes. But his work right out of the gate showed him doing exactly that.

Now, it should be noted that he’s not been perfect. Over the first few practices of camp, he has been beaten in coverage a couple of times while working with the second-team defense. Overall, however, the early returns on the rookie have been extremely positive.

New Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has enjoyed tremendous success with big, long cornerbacks who some would consider “bad movers” throughout his coaching career, most notably in Seattle. Wright was seemingly cut from that same cloth and it seems early on that he could be the next Quinn success story in that same light.

But the bigger impact here is the implications of Wright possibly being ready to see the field in year one. Cornerback was circled as a problem area for the Dallas defense as, outside of emerging second-year player Trevon Diggs and Anthony Brown, there were serious questions about the depth. However, if Wright continues on this trajectory and shows out in the preseason, there starts to be some enticing movability within the secondary.

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For a team that has few concerns on offense amid the return of Dak Prescott, that kind of upside for the defense would be huge. Regardless of if Wright earns a starting job or not, though, it already appears clear that the Cowboys may have pulled a fast one and gotten one of the steals of the 2021 draft, a far cry from the massive reach it looked like at the time.