Kendall Wright tunes out NFL draft hype
By SEAN JENSEN firstname.lastname@example.org April 25, 2012 9:46PM
WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19: Kendall Wright #1 of the Baylor Bears runs during a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:59AM
Kendall Wright, who had a brilliant career at Baylor as a four-year starter, can’t ignore all the pre-NFL draft chatter, even if he’s not actively paying attention.
Quiet and low-profile by nature, the wide receiver refuses to ride the emotional roller coaster, as analysts with an agenda and unnamed league sources play cloak and dagger leading up to tonight’s much-anticipated first round.
‘‘I just try to tune it all out,” Wright said Wednesday during a break in New York, where he was among the NFL’s invited guests. “That’s the way I usually am.
‘‘Most people don’t know. It’s just their opinion. Some people just try to take things and blow it out of proportion.”
On occasion, though, Wright hears some rumors from friends or family members.
“They’ll ask me and tell me,’’ he said, “but, they don’t really get into it, because they already know what’s happening and what’s real.’’
The preseason doesn’t start until August but NFL teams play plenty of games in April, going to great lengths to land the player or players they covet.
But on the field, just as off the field, some teams play the game better than others.
Jacksonville Jaguars player personnel director Terry McDonough told 930-AM in Jacksonville that ‘‘people know Miami’s going to take [Ryan Tannehill].’’
‘‘If a team wants a quarterback,’’ he told the radio station, ‘‘they’re going to have to come in front of Miami.’’
Curiously, the Jaguars have the seventh overall pick — one spot ahead of the Dolphins — and they have no need for Tannehill, who is considered the third-best QB, since they drafted Blaine Gabbert last year.
This after Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported over the weekend that a league source told him Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was pushing for Tannehill. By Monday, Ross and general manager Jeff Ireland politely denied Florio’s post.
Few players have been placed in the proverbial ringer more than Wright, who is projected to go anywhere from the teens in the first round into the second. Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Greg Cosell of NFL Films have the Bears taking Wright with the 19th overall pick in their mock drafts. Last week, the Bears hosted Wright at Halas Hall.
Meanwhile, former NFL general manager Charley Casserly doesn’t have Wright among the top 32.
One NFC personnel executive said Wright is as talented as Justin Blackmon and Michael Floyd, except he’s not as tall. But an NFC offensive coordinator said Wright is more explosive and versatile, capable of playing both inside and outside.
Other pluses for Wright: he produced with the likes of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III and lesser quarterbacks; he outproduced Floyd and Blackmon last season, in terms of explosive plays and all-purpose yards, according to STATS, and he had fewer drops than the other two receivers. He also doesn’t have character concerns.
More than anything, Wright has been bothered by a report about his body fat being at 16 percent. Just last week, he said, one NFL club measured his body fat at 8.4 percent.
Sure, he would like to be selected high. But he’s more concerned about landing on the right team, in the right system. He’s not interested in the hoopla, which is why he had no problems with what transpired last season.
‘‘I just stay laid-back,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m actually glad RG3 got all the attention, and nobody bothers me.’’
He may be many things, but a diva isn’t among them.
What’s his message to NFL GMs?
‘‘I’m a very explosive playmaker, and I’m versatile,’’ he said. ‘‘I can kick-return, punt-return, whatever they need me to.’’