Cornerback Nahshon Wright spent most of his rookie season on special teams for the Dallas Cowboys. Can the second-year prospect push his way into a larger role on defense in 2022?
Dallas drafted Wright with of their three 3rd-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Oregon State product was probably the most-maligned pick of the entire draft class; many declaring it a reach and some not even projecting Nahshon would get drafted at all.
But with Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn's love for big-bodies defensive backs, Wright's 6'4″ build naturally put him on the Cowboys' draft radar. And despite other pre-draft rankings, Will McClay's crew obviously felt Nahshon merited being a Day 2 pick.
Wright did contribute for Dallas last year as one of the busiest special teams player. He finished fourth on the team in total ST snaps, trailing just Luke Gifford, C.J. Goodwin, and Corey Clement in that area. His biggest moment was recovering a blocked punt for a touchdown in the Cowboys' 43-3 beatdown of the Falcons.
Third-round picks are meant to do more than play special teams, though, and especially in their second seasons. But with a crowded CB depth chart in Dallas right now, how much more can Nahshon Wright expect in 2022?
Trevon Diggs, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis are the veteran top three from last year. Kelvin Joseph, drafted in the 2nd Round last year ahead of Wright, is naturally expected to remain ahead of him on the depth chart as well.
This leaves Nahshon in the unenviable but not unusual position of having to leapfrog other talent for a larger role. It won't be enough for him to simple progress in Year 2, but could also require one of Brown, Lewis, or Joseph giving Dallas a reason to start looking further down the list.
One reason already exists in Brown and Lewis' contracts. Anthony's deal expires after 2022 and Jourdan's could make him a cap casualty, offering Dallas $5 million in potential relief if he's released next year.
From a cap management standpoint, the Cowboys would be thrilled to see Joseph and Wright join Diggs as the team's new top three next season. That means giving them opportunities now to compete and earn confidence before decisions have to be made in the next offseason.
Because of the CB logjam and being drafted a round behind Joseph, Wright hasn't been getting a lot of attention going into this season. But he received positive marks for his one start last year in the Week 18 finale and has a physical gift that makes him standout from the rest of the room.
It may not be until next year before Nahshon Wright gets his best opportunity with the Cowboys. But if the young corner shows enough improvement in his second season, his unique height could push him further up the depth chart in 2022 than we might currently expect.