In 2013, Pro Football Focus (PFF) named Shareece Wright the easiest cornerback to pass on. While playing 802 snaps with the San Diego Chargers, Wright gave up 876 yards and four TD while surrendering a whopping 1.09 yards per snap. After three subpar seasons with the Chargers, Wright signed with San Francisco 49ers in 2015. He was released on October 10th after being inactive for the first three games of the season.
Nobody batted a single lash when Wright signed with the Ravens the same season. It appeared as if he was going to be next on the Ravens’ revolving door of corners along with names like Chykie Brown, Rashaan Melvin, Danny Gorrer, and others.
That wasn’t the case.
PFF ranked every cornerback in the league in 2015 and Wright was placed at 32 with a solid grade of 79.4. Because of his improvement, the Ravens invested a three-year $13M deal into Wright with the hopes that his arrow will continue to trend upwards.
After Wright’s Week 1 performance against the Buffalo Bills, the gamble looks like it’ll pay off.
“Shareece was big-time today,” Eric Weddle said. “Not only covering his guys. You know, I played with Shareece for four years, and I know what type of player he is, how physical and tough he is, and the willing tackler that he is.”
Whether in the backfield defending passes or past the line of scrimmage dropping ball carriers for losses, Wright was dominating all over the field against the Bills. He was by far the defense’s most valuable player.
Wright was especially impressive on the ground while recording a team-high 11 tackles. It’s a rarity for a corner to be such an effective tackler but Wright was constantly playing aggressive and was around the ball on almost every play.
In the pass game, Wright gave up only four catches for 13 yards, per PFF. Though the Bills’ main threat Sammy Watkins was primarily manned by Jimmy Smith, Wright helped eliminate other assigned targets such as Robert Woods, who was only allowed one catch for nine yards.
In the preseason, John Harbaugh repeatedly emphasized the urge to find playmakers, especially in the secondary. “If you can make the plays, there’s a place for you on this team,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Because we need guys out there making plays to help us win games.”
Wright exemplified those game-defining plays on multiple occasions.
On the game’s second play, Wright pinned down running back LeSean McCoy in the backfield for a six-yard loss. On the very next play, he blew up a screen pass for a four-yard loss to force a three-and-out.
That’s two tackles for a loss on the game’s opening drive.
But his most crucial moment came on a third-and-2 play in the third quarter with Baltimore clinging to a three-point lead. As quarterback Tyrod Taylor attempted to sweep left to pick up the first down, Wright perfectly penetrated the blockers and dropped Taylor for a two-yard loss.
“That was a huge play in the game,” John Harbaugh said. “For Shareece to come right through there, because it looked like he had a little space there, he was well blocked. He made a guy miss and knifed through there and up in to Tyrod.”
As of now, the Ravens are the league’s best defense…on paper. Last week, they allowed 160 yards of total offense, the fewest in the league. I know, it’s only been one game and the Ravens weren’t exactly playing the most menacing of offenses. But hey, for at least a week (hopefully much longer), Ravens fans will get a kick out of seeing their team in first place in total defense on NFL.com’s team stats page.
But for real, when was the last time the Ravens defense has looked this dominant? That’s because the defense now has what it was in dire need of last season: playmakers! And if Wright consistently performs like how he did last Sunday, they’ll have a damn good playmaker in him.
“Everybody got an eye-opener today of what he’s all about,” Weddle said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s worked his tail off.”
submitted by Mitchell Wolfman