May 15, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib (25) and cornerback Eric Wright (21) workout during organized team activities at One Buc. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Eric Wright to a five-year, $38 million contract, a lot of fans agonized over that decision. Eric Wright did not have a great reputation when he came to Tampa Bay, as he was taken advantage of just a little too often last season with the Detroit Lions. Pro Football Focus in particular was rather harsh on the veteran cornerback.
But, advanced statistics paint a different picture. Eric Wright is a ballhawk, averaging 3 interceptions per year. More importantly, he's also pretty good in coverage. According to Football Outsiders, the Detroit Lions had the fourth best passing defense in the NFL last season. While this is obviously buoyed by their pass rush, you can't discount the impact of Eric Wright's solid play. The advanced statistics were interesting in another way: the Lions were ranked 3rd against #1 receivers and 5th against #2 receivers. It wasn't until they put their third receiver on the field and forced the Lions' third cornerback to play that the passing defense went down the drain.
Here's another interesting fact: Eric Wright spent the first four years of his career at left cornerback. He played all over the formation for the Lions last season, and the Bucs referenced his versatilty as a reason for signing him. But the Bucs may want to use him primarily at left cornerback, as he played his best football at that position. The player who calls that spot home now? Aqib Talib. Do they see Wright as the future replacement for Aqib Talib?