The University of Tennessee has a storied football program and has produced all-time NFL greats like defensive end Reggie White and quarterback Peyton Manning.
Former Volunteer greats like defensive back Dale Carter, punter Dustin Colquitt and safety Eric Berry all played the majority of their professional careers for the Kansas City Chiefs. General manager Brett Veach and the front office should focus on securing both offensive tackle spots and looking in Knoxville, Tennessee, once more could prove fruitful.
Right tackle Darnell Wright
Darnell Wright is the starting right tackle for the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers, who currently sit at 9-1 on the 2022 season. The Volunteers play against South Carolina Saturday at 6 p.m. Arrowhead Time on ESPN.
Wright is listed at 6 feet 6 and 335 pounds and was rated as a five-star recruit out of Huntington High School in Huntington, West Virginia. He earned playing time immediately and has been bounced around the offensive line since his 2019 freshman campaign. He played with current Chiefs right guard Trey Smith during the 2019 and 2020 seasons when both were starters.
He has anchored the right tackle spot for all of 2022 and has been integral in the success of the Volunteers’ offense. The argument could be made that the Chiefs need a right tackle more than any other position (pending the future of left tackle Orlando Brown Jr.). However, Wright also has plenty of experience on the left side, spending all of 2021 as the starting left tackle for Tennessee.
Let’s go to the movie:
Wright swipes down the hands of the defender upon contact, which causes the rusher to lose his balance. Wright stays aggressive and gives a nice shove before his man can regain much control. There is zero pressure collapsing the pocket.
We see Wright win early but lose a little inside leverage toward the end of the rep. Wright saves himself and buries the defender with a pancake block. It is an excellent display of Wright’s power and his ability to recover.
Wright shows a nice kick step on this rep as he gains the correct depth to prevent an outside rush but has the balance and leverage to beat the move inside as well. His initial punch halts the pressure and forces the defensive end back outside.
Here we see Wright facing one of the best edge rushers in all of college football, Alabama’s Will Anderson. Wright has no problem getting the depth to stop Anderson’s outside rush attempt and stall his upfield progress.
Wright gets a big leap outside on this one and gets his hands on the chest of the rusher, immediately halting his rush. A second bull rush attempt is fruitless as Wright overpowers the defender on this play.
This time, a defender attempts an inside spin move which Wright reacts nicely to. Wright can hold off the defender with his left arm and then withstand the counter back outside as well. His natural power and strength come in handy often and will help him along his professional career.
Here, we see a negative rep from Wright. He is slow at the snap, and the defender gets outside leverage, dips beneath Wright and makes contact with the quarterback, disrupting the pass attempt, which allows a fellow defensive lineman to get the sack.
This appears to be a simple timing issue at the snap, which is easily fixable.
Wright is used as a puller and gets his head on the correct side, which springs the running back for a big gain. Wright takes the right path to put himself in the perfect position to make an effective second-level block.
Wright is responsible for the 3-technique on this run play. Wright attacks the inside shoulder, which gives him leverage and gets his back between the hole and the defense. Wright maintains his leverage and then gets in the pile to try and get more yardage. An effort like that is a valuable trait.
Wright pulls again and creates the space necessary for the ball carrier to get loose. Wright is a big man but moves with nimble feet and sudden lateral movement. This allows him to get in a position to win in multiple situations.
Wright down-blocks the Florida nose tackle and clears the path for the runner, who takes the play right off Wright’s backside and into the end zone for the score. Wright keeps his feet mobile while making contact with the Gators’ defensive tackle, who is not easy to push around.
The bottom line
The Chiefs are currently sitting atop the AFC standings and control their own destiny.
One of the primary short-term goals is to be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which could set up an unprecedented fifth-straight AFC Championship at Arrowhead Stadium. A primary long-term goal should be to ensure the offensive line remains one of the league’s top units to keep quarterback Patrick Mahomes clean.
Wright provides quality starting talent along multiple offensive line positions but could slide in on day one as the starting right tackle. His size paired with the movement ability he possesses would help secure the trenches for the next few seasons.