clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

How the Cincinnati Bengals discovered James Wright

New, comments

The Cincinnati Bengals drafted LSU wide receiver James Wright in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft. It wasn't his ability as a receiver that caught the team's eye. It was his speed.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it's casual reading or obsessive information gathering, there's something about Geoff Hobson's weekly mailbag. Sure -- his perspectives and articles are slanted in a somewhat team-friendly matter (that tends to happen when you write for the team's official website). Whatever. There's good content there.

For instance, the latest mailbag talks about how the team came to select wide receiver James Wright during the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Robert Livingston, the Bengals southeast scout, was all over LSU’s Wright early, particularly in his all-star game, in large part because he knew a lot about him even though Wright didn’t have a catch in 2013. But he had seen him play receiver the year before and he knew he had the size (6-2) and the speed to run well enough that he was a special teams nightmare for opponents.

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was headed to LSU’s pro day to see running back Jeremy Hill, but he was also anxious to see Wright because of the personnel reports. When Jackson saw Wright run, he loved him, so it 239 was an easy pick because they thought they had upgraded in two ways, at special teams and at the No. 5 receiver.

That's right. Good ol' fashioned scouting, from Robert Livingston and eventually offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, who provided an alley-oop-sized assist in discovering Wright.

In truth, Wright's season was blah (which is what you expect from a seventh-rounder). He only played 190 snaps on offense and was targeted 14 times -- two of those targets led to interceptions, which came against the Cleveland Browns (part I) and Tampa Bay.

But it was also his performance against Tampa Bay that stood out this season.

With 2:37 remaining in the fourth quarter from their own 19-yard line, the Bengals had third and 11 when Andy Dalton carelessly chucked the football down the sidelines. Wright pulled in the 30-yard reception at midfield. Eventually Tampa Bay used their entire allotment of timeouts and Cincinnati punted the football back to Tampa Bay with 1:55 remaining -- their (non)game-winning drive would stall at midfield.

Wright, who generated five tackles and forced a fumble on special teams, also posted a 24-yard reception against Carolina that put Cincinnati into field goal position in overtime. Unfortunately, he missed the final five games with a knee injury.