Third Round, 70th Pick
Blidi Wreh-Wilson might not be the most well-known name in the 2013 NFL draft, but that doesn't mean the cornerback from the University of Connecticut isn't talented. He's got an interesting set of skills to offer an NFL franchise.
Let's look at what makes Wreh-Wilson such an intriguing prospect and a possible third-round selection in the upcoming draft.
Wreh-Wilson possesses the ideal size for an NFL cornerback. At 6'0", 190 pounds with 32" arms, Wreh-Wilson certainly looks the part. His long frame and arms allow him to breakup passes thrown in his direction.
He's also got the physicality to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage. Connecticut had him line up at a number of places on the field, so he has some versatility that he can bring to a roster.
Wreh-Wilson proved during his collegiate career to be dangerous with the ball in his hands. He returned two of his seven career interceptions for touchdowns.
Polished route-runners will be able to easily get past Wreh-Wilson. While Connecticut lined him up all over the field, he really struggled when he was forced to cover slot receivers.
He doesn't show good fluidity in his hips when asked to turn and run with receivers. He'll need to add some strength and become more physical when asked to shed blockers and take down a running back.
Wreh-Wilson lacks elite instincts as he'll fall for play-action passes too often.
The 2013 NFL Scouting Combine and Senior Bowl weren't overly kind to Wreh-Wilson. They showed scouts and NFL teams that he lacks the speed, strength and agility to be a shutdown cornerback.
However, Wreh-Wilson knows how to use his size to his advantage to make plays in the secondary.
Wreh-Wilson started 32 games during his career at Connecticut. He did miss some time during the 2011 season with an injury, but there are no other red flags NFL teams should worry about.
In 2012, Wreh-Wilson was voted his team's Most Valuable Player.
The Huskies used Wreh-Wilson quite a bit in man coverage. He both pressed and played off wide receivers during his collegiate career.
Playing the Ball
There were times when Wreh-Wilson looked like an elite cornerback during the 2012 season. He'd show the ability to plant his feet and drive on the football to break up passes.
His hands aren't consistent in creating turnovers, but he'll at least get enough of the ball to break up passes. He had nine passes defended during the 2012 season for Connecticut.
Despite his ideal size, Wreh-Wilson lost a number of jump balls due to getting jumped or overpowered in the air.
Against the Run
This is one area where Wreh-Wilson really needs to improve. He'll often take himself out of plays by overplaying the pass to make an impact against the run.
Wreh-Wilson also doesn't show the willingness against the run to make a huge impact in this area of the game.
Wreh-Wilson has the length to press wide receivers at the line of scrimmage in man coverage. However, he's better when asked to play off and give space to receivers.
When Wreh-Wilson gets beaten, he lacks the fluidity and change-of-direction speed to get back into the play. Against faster receivers or more polished receivers in their route-running ability, he'll often find himself getting beaten.
Wreh-Wilson simply doesn't posses the overall skills to be trusted in strictly man coverage in the NFL.
Wreh-Wilson will be a successful cornerback in the NFL if the team that drafts him plays mostly zone coverage.
He has a good understanding of where to be in zone coverage and doesn't wander outside his designated area. Zone coverage also allows Wreh-Wilson to drive on the football and use his length to breakup passes.
There is major room for improvement in terms of tackling for Wreh-Wilson. He struggles to consistently wrap up opponents, choosing to lunge at the feet far too often.
Wreh-Wilson also doesn't hit with much pop and isn't overly physical when tackling in the open field. He'll sometimes overshoot receivers and running backs when looking to make a big play.
Wreh-Wilson has solid footwork. He keeps his frame low when backpedaling and keeps his feet under himself to keep his balance.
He does a good job at getting his hands in the right place when jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. He needs to improve his ability to turn and run with receivers and keeping his hips fluid throughout a play.
Future Role/Scheme Versatility
It'll be hard for teams to trust Wreh-Wilson playing strictly man coverage in an NFL defense. However, in a zone scheme where he can use his size and ball-skills to his advantage, Wreh-Wilson could provide a team with solid play at the cornerback position.
He'll never be a No. 1 cornerback for a team, but he should become a solid contributor for a team early in his career.