One of the fastest-rising prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft is Tennessee offensive lineman Darnell Wright, and despite meeting with the Detroit Lions at the NFL Combine, the team has reportedly elected to also bring him in for a top-30 visit, per Aaron Wilson.
Wright has an impressive resume that includes over three years of starting experience at both right (1737 snaps) and left tackle (922), as well as inside at right guard (51). He performed above expectations as a senior and was a key catalyst in the Volunteers upset victory over Alabama this past season, as Wright shut down projected top pick Will Anderson. At the NFL Combine, Anderson would go on to say that Wright was the best offensive tackle he faced in his career.
Despite the high praise, many national draft pundits were initially late to the party on Wright, while several other highly respected evaluators have been in on Wright for some time. Trench Warfare’s Brandon Thorn is one of the most well-respected offensive line analysts in the game and he has had Wright as a projected first-rounder for some time. When NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah first released his initial top 50 prospects, he listed Wright as No. 32. Since then, Jeremiah has pushed him all the way up to No. 15 overall on the fourth edition of his top 50 list. Jeremiah is not alone in re-ranking Wright much higher on his draft board, as PFF has bumped him up to No. 20 on their board, after initially listing him at No. 71. Even The Atheltic’s Dane Brugler has moved him up from No. 37 to No. 24 in his latest update.
Wright’s ability to play at right tackle, as well as inside at guard, is surely appealing for the Lions, hence the extra attention this offseason. If he was drafted by Detroit, Wright would immediately compete for a starting spot at right guard, while also offering the Lions long-term options at both guard and tackle—they have upcoming decisions to make with Jonah Jackson after the 2023 season, Taylor Decker after the 2024 season, and Penei Sewell after the 2025 season—assuming they pick up his fifth-year option.
If the Lions are as interested as the appear, he seems very much in play for them with the No. 18 overall pick.