Cincinnati Bengals Player Preview: James Wright

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LSU ranked among the best nationally in net punting because of his punt coverage ability.

James Wright

Height: 6-1

Weight: 201

Age: 22

College: LSU

Hometown: Buras, La.

Experience: Rookie

It's rare you players drafted solely on their special teams impact. That's the case though with James Wright, .selected by the Bengals in the seventh-round of the 2014 NFL Draft.

The former Tiger played a pivotal role on special teams while helping LSU ranked among the best nationally in net punting because of his punt coverage ability.

During the Outback bowl in January, Wright "smothered a muffed punt to give LSU a short field that led to its second touchdown and then batted an LSU punt at the goal line back toward the five-yard line to pin the Hawkeyes deep late in the first half."

The Valley Shook, SB Nation's LSU website, said Wright was "never more than third or fourth option on offense" during his college career, posting 25 receptions and no touchdowns during his final season.

He's going to be a great coverage man on special teams, possibly even a gunner, but he's not expected to contribute at a specific position on offense or defense.

Offensive Stats:

Receiving

Rushing

Scrimmage

Year

G

Rec

Yds

Avg

TD

Att

Yds

Avg

TD

Plays

Yds

Avg

TD

*2010

12

2

21

10.5

0

2

21

10.5

0

*2011

14

5

41

8.2

0

5

41

8.2

0

*2012

12

18

242

13.4

0

18

242

13.4

0

*2013

0

0

0

Career

25

304

12.2

0

25

304

12.2

0

Defensive Stats:

Year

G

Solo

Ast

Tot

Loss

Sk

Int

Yds

Avg

TD

PD

FR

Yds

TD

FF

*2010

12

0

0

0

0

0

0

*2011

14

0

0

0

0

0

0

*2012

12

1

0

1

0.0

0.0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

*2013

4

8

12

0.0

0.0

0

1

Career

5

8

13

0.0

0.0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

The Bengals probably hope Wright can follow the paths of other carer special teams like Brendon AyanbadejoKassim Osgood or Matt Slater, guys who've lasted in the NFL due to their impact on special teams.

Each of those three players have made 3 Pro Bowls due to their effectiveness as special teams players. Slater has lasted six years in the NFL. Ayanbadejo lasted 10, while Osgood has made it 11 years. They've done so solely because of their specials team impact.

The good thing about Wright is because he doesn't have a true position, Cincinnati can easily stash him on the practice squad and call him up later in the year if injuries leave the Bengals needing more bodies on special teams.

That said, Wright has made a favorable impression during Organized Team Activities, so much so that he may be viewed as a legitimate wide receiver. Dan Hoard of the Cincinnati Enquirer was on hand to watch Bengals OTAs, and he came away impressed with what he saw from Wright.

A triple move 20-yard out to the pylon in one-on-one still probably has Chris Lewis-Harris spinning. He blew by seventh-round pick Lavelle Westbrooks for a deep ball early in the week. If he can prove his worth as a receiver against the top DBs combined with his ability to contribute right away on teams, he has an argument to make the 53-man roster.

In the end, I expect Wright to make the roster as the sixth or seventh receiver. Marvin Lewis and Darrin Simmons are big on players who make an impact on special teams, even if they are weak at their true position.

Guys like Jeromy Miles, Cedric Peerman and even Vincent Rey have latched onto the Bengals for several years just because of their special teams abilities.

Speaking of Whalen, he has played in just 13 games over his first three NFL seasons. His contract is also set to expire next year. I believe Wright ultimately takes his roster spot.

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