Wright, a 2007 second-round draft pick by the Cleveland Browns, had some off-field issues at UNLV that dropped his projected first-round draft stock.
Wright was the starting left CB almost immediately as a rookie. Wright looked very solid during his ‘07 through ‘09 seasons. He recorded eight interceptions and defended 38 passes over that span.
Coming into the 2010 season, Wright was considered by many to be one of the top corners in the NFL. He was moved to the right side where he played alongside LCB Leigh Bodden.
Up to this point in Wright’s career, he was rarely targeted by opponents who preferred to work away from Wright’s lockdown coverage.
With the 2010 draft addition of Joe Haden, the Browns were stacked with talent and looking forward to a productive season defensively.
For reasons that remain largely a mystery, Wright’s 2010 season was an absolute train wreck. He was burned time after time for TDs and couldn’t cover his own shadow.
In Week 6, Pittsburgh burned Wright for two TDs, and opponents started to frequently work Wright’s side of the field with great success. After being burned three times by Anquan Boldin in a Week 9 loss to New England, Wright started to receive death threats from irate fans.
Joe Haden was given more snaps and Wright suffered a knee sprain that he tried to play through. Wright was eventually benched in Week 15 in favor of Hayden.
Wright struggled through some nagging knee issues, but the writing was on the wall—Wright’s days in a Browns uniform were over.
The change in the rules for unrestricted free agency in the new CBA was just what Wright needed in order to make his escape. Before the lockout, the Browns had a second-round tender on Wright as a restricted free agent.
Detroit offers Wright a welcome change of scenery and the opportunity to play behind an elite front four. That’s a definite improvement over the situation he faced as a Brown where his time on an island was made lengthy by the non-existent Browns pass rush.
The Browns had dumped their 4-3 defense after the 2009 season and adopted the 3-4 defense. I believe that this was a contributing factor in Wright’s drastic fall in productivity. That 3-4 Browns defense was so bad that it was scrapped by new Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron.
The Lions coaching staff will have to rebuild Wright’s confidence. If there’s one thing that we know about the Lions coaches, it’s that they will put Wright in the best possible position to succeed.
If Detroit’s GM Martin Mayhew’s track record for rehabilitating careers is any indication, Wright might be the best “square peg” acquisition of the year.
Welcome to Detroit, Eric Wright, where you will never get a better chance to shine.
Mike Sudds is a syndicated Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Mike is also an analyst and correspondent for DraftTek.com.