BROWNS SELECT DB ERIC WRIGHT IN THE SECOND-ROUND
Quotes from Browns Senior Vice President and General Manager, Phil Savage:
(Opening Statement)- "Eric began his career at USC. He redshirted and then started in the national championship game against Oklahoma. This incident happened in March of 2005. Our research indicated that he had not had any episodes or incidents prior to this one night at USC. He ultimately transferred to UNLV where they gave him an opportunity. He redshirted and was on the scout team for one year. He stayed in order. As you can imagine in Las Vegas, you can find trouble easily there. He played this past year and elected to come out as a junior. He felt it was time to put his toe in the water and come into the NFL. He is a really talented player who has excellent size and speed. Because he was a junior coming out, we had not done a lot of work on him because he was not a high profile junior. He showed up at the combine and had an outstanding workout. He peaked our interest and we went back and looked at the tapes. We worked him out at the school, interviewed him at the combine and brought him out here to the building. In the meantime as we mentioned, we did the background check which includes police reports, but also going out and meeting people. We were comfortable with where we were and if we weren't we would have taken him off of our board. There are times where players might have a situation and you might push him down your board. We didn't even do that. We left Eric Wright where we thought he should be. Once we got to pick 50 or so, we felt it was worth it to call some teams. We felt like his value in this draft would go down half a round or a whole round because of this situation. We're comfortable that he had no problems prior to that and no problems since. We'll bring him in and you'll have a chance to meet him tomorrow. We'll have a chance to clear the air and put it to bed. When we take Joe Thomas and Brady Quinn, character is important. That certainly doesn't give us a pass to take a chance on someone else. I'm a person that does believe in second chances and I feel like he was believable enough for us to give him an opportunity. We need the help at that position and we'll see how it turns out. There are no guarantees, but ultimately, he's a player who paid the price for what he did in terms of the fact that nothing came from it. There was a suspension and he felt like he should move on and continue his career elsewhere."
(On the draft)- "I felt like this was a draft where we didn't know how it would play out. I didn't think we could stay content and stay put whether we were moving up or back. We showed a lot of flexibility with what we did with the 22nd pick and here again at 52 I believe. At least Jerry Jones will know who I am now."
(On Pete Carroll speaking on behalf of Eric Wright)- "We had some people talk to Pete. Because of the situation, he's not going to advertise his comments and they were private. He spoke for Eric's character and playing ability."
(On being careful due to the new NFL conduct policy)- "I think we're all interested to see what happens when a situation occurs. We all know something is going to happen. Just because we put a policy in place doesn't mean people aren't going to make a mistake. I think we felt good about our research and him as a player. We targeted several positions and we feel we came away from day one with three really good players who should be here for a long time. They can help us win. When you look at the positions of impact on a team, you look at a big-play wideout, a left tackle, and a quarterback. We brought Jamal (Lewis) here as a running back and we needed help at the cornerback position depending on what happens with Gary (Baxter) and others. We needed help there and we got a nose tackle in Shaun Smith. We feel like we attacked some real needs over the last two years and we're in a much better position to compete long term than we have been before."
(On the rules of the NFL conduct policy)- "(Eric's) official record is basically clean. I'm not sure how that will work. A lot of us have questions on how that will work in terms of a fine directed at a team or a loss of draft picks. I think that's down the line unless you have major transgressions. We're a team that's had very few incidents since Romeo and I have been here. I think we have a clean team in our locker room and out in the public. We don't want all choir boys either. We want to win. It will be interesting to see how things do happen. You have boys who are 20 years old up to 40 years old. You have a lot of money, a lot of time and a lot of access to different things. We felt like he's mature to handle it."
(On an urgency for the Browns to make a difference)- "I would say that's accurate. We have an urgency because, quite frankly, I'm not that excited about the second day of the draft. We might have a few players who fall in our lap. For our team and our needs, guys can come in and compete with other players we had. That's the hidden agenda. I think we have upgraded the low end of our roster. It's not guaranteed that sixth and seventh round guys are going to come in here and make our team anymore. We felt like we needed to be aggressive and get three players who can have an impact at any point whether it's day one or next year. Quarterback, offensive line and secondary are your three major groupings of your team. If you have an offensive line that can do some things, you are going to have a chance on offense. If you have a secondary that doesn't give up big plays, you are going to stay in most games. If you have a quarterback that can make some plays for you, be a leader and learn the offense, those are three things that will keep you in game and help you win a lot of them. Those are the major groupings of our team. I'm most excited about that because I think we've upgraded the talent level in those three areas."
(On Eric Wright being humbled)- "I would say very much so. You'll meet him tomorrow and he will come across as reserved. I can assure you he's not going to extend himself out to you guys. He's one of the players who made a mistake. I would venture to say there are many others who did similar things but didn't get caught. Unfortunately for him, he got caught and it ruined him for two years. We feel like he's going to be able to handle this. He assured us, looked us in the eye and said he was going to be straight. He never had a situation occur before, hasn't had one occur since and has been living in Las Vegas."
(On Eric Wright's charges affecting his rating)- "I don't think so. We felt like we got clearance on what happened and what went down. It didn't effect our rating and we didn't expect him to last this long. The character players were going to probably drop half a round or more. I think the timing of the policy has had somewhat of a bearing on the draft. We talked about Brandon Merriweather and how the first image people would see is him stomping the FIU player in the infamous brawl. That's exactly what happened. Brandon Merriweather was another player who we felt like made amends and explained his situation. He went to New England."
(On the league overreacting to character problems)- "I think we need it. We have training and programs in place for the players. One of the owners said, if we keep having these incidents, we won't keep having these schedules to talk about. I agree with that."
(On the criticism of the Eric Wright selection)- "Absolutely. When we had Eric in on our visit, I asked him if he was going to be prepared when the lights go on him. He is going to be watched like a hawk."
Quotes from Browns Head Coach Romeo Crennel:
(Opening Statement)- "It looked like we were going to take all offensive guys so I jumped on the table, did a little nudging and got a defensive guy. We drafted a cornerback, which is an area we need. He was rated high on our board so we decided to make a trade to go get him. I know that there is some question about an issue he had when he was a young player at USC. All of the charges were dropped against the young man and since that time, he's basically had a clean bill of health. He's been good since that time. We've had him in. We feel good about him learning from his mistake that he made. Although the charges were dropped from that incident, I think he's learned from it. I had him in my office and I talked to him. He mentioned to me that he was a young guy at the time and he's learned quite a bit since the incident. When you are young and in college, a lot of things happen that shouldn't happen, but you learn from them. I think that's the case in this situation and that's why we were able to take him and add him to the team. I think he'll come in and be a good guy and player for us. We've added him to the team and we feel good about it."
(On Eric Wright competing for a starting job)- "We deal with juniors a lot. They all come out early now. We'll treat him like we treat everyone else. We'll teach him the system, put him out there and see what he can do. We feel like he has the ability to compete for us and be productive. Time will tell if that's the case. We think he can compete."
ERIC ANDREW WRIGHT
University of Nevada-Las Vegas Rebels
San Francisco, California
Archbishop Riordan High School
Wright was only with the Rebels for nine games before deciding to enter the 2007 NFL Draft instead of returning to the school for his senior year. By doing so, he became the first underclassman to ever leave the school early.
In 2003, the talented cornerback enrolled at Southern California, where he redshirted. Wright forced his way into the Trojans' lineup for four games at weak-side cornerback in 2004, but left the school and enrolled at UNLV in 2005, sitting out the season under NCAA transfer rules.
Wright was a 2002 Super Prep All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, All-Northern California Co-MVP and San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro first team honoree as a senior running back and defensive back at Archbishop Riordan High School.
As a senior, he rushed for 1,166 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 268 yards (14.9 avg) with four scores on offense. He added 80 tackles (31 solos), four forced fumbles, two interceptions and ten pass deflections on defense. He also was on Riordan's track team, with bests of 10.74 wind-aided in the 100 meters (10.83 legal) and 23-4 3/4 in the long jump.
Wright signed with Southern California in 2003, but spent the season on the sidelines as a medical hardship after suffering a hamstring injury in fall camp. He appeared in thirteen games for the Trojans, starting four times at weak-side cornerback (including vs. Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl), earning All-Pac 10 Conference Freshman Team honors from The Sporting News. He collected a career-high 33 tackles (27 solos) with two sacks and a fumble recovery. He intercepted a pair of passes and deflected six others.
Wright suited up for nine games at UNLV in 2006, where he was issued jersey #21 after wearing #25 at USC. He appeared in nine games at left cornerback, starting the first four and final two contests. He sat out the Colorado State, New Mexico and Brigham Young games with a left knee sprain. He registered 29 tackles (17 solos) with a forced fumble while deflecting eight passes and intercepting another. He also excelled on special teams while seeing some action on offense.
Wright totaled 430 yards on 18 kickoff returns (23.9 avg) and rushed twice for 36 yards. In 22 collegiate games at two schools, Wright started ten times. He registered 62 tackles (44 solos) with two sacks for minus 13 yards, 2.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble. He deflected fourteen passes and intercepted three others for 54 yards in returns. He added two carries for 36 yards and 18 kickoff returns for 430 yards (23.9 avg).
During his playing days at Southern California, Eric wore jersey #25, switching to #21 when he arrived at Nevada-Las Vegas.
All-Mountain West Conference second-team selection from The NFL Draft Report and the league's coaches...Played in nine games, starting the first four contests and the final two at left cornerback during his first year at Nevada-Las Vegas...Recorded 29 tackles (17 solos) and assisted on a stop behind the line of scrimmage...Caused a fumble and rushed twice for 36 yards (18.0 avg)...Gained 32 yards on an interception return and deflected eight passes...Returned 18 kickoffs for 430 yards, as Wright's average of 23.89 yards led the conference and ranked 34th in the nation...27 of his plays came in passing situations, as Wright registered six third-down stops and one fourth-down tackle...He made five tackles inside the red zone, including two in goal-line situations...Sat out the Colorado State, New Mexico and Brigham Young contests with a left knee sprain...Was a member of the school's Leadership Committee.
2006 GAME ANALYSIS
Idaho State...In his first game as a Rebel, Eric posted three tackles (2 solos), deflected three passes, caused one fumble and returned three kickoffs for 35 yards, including a 21-yarder on the team's first play for the season...Batted away a third-&-29 pass from Matt Gutierrez that was intended for Akilah Lacey, forcing ISU to punt on the Vandals' first series of the game...Repeated the process, batting down a third-&-19 throw by the ISU passer that was again intended for Lacey with 7:09 left in the first half, as the Vandals then punted...Stripped Josh Barnett of the ball on a 7-yard run at the LV 42, but Idaho State's Clyde Logan recovered it with 2:46 remaining in the second quarter...Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#1-Akilah Lacey-Two catches for 71 yards.
Iowa State...Gained 103 yards on three kickoff returns, including a 54-yarder on the game's first play and registered six tackles (3 solos) with an interception and a pass break-up...Picked off a Bret Meyer pass at the LV 22 and returned the ball 32 yards two minutes into the contest, setting up a Rebels 26-yard field goal...Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#81-Jon Davis-Two catches for 57 yards.
Hawaii...Wright returned five kickoffs for 137 yards with a long of 30...He added six tackles (5 solos) and deflected one pass...Prevented a potential touchdown when he tackled A. Bain after the receiver gained 5 yards on a third-&-goal catch and Hawaii would then fumble the ball on the next play early in the fourth quarter...Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#7-Davone Bess-Ten catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.
Nevada...Assisted on one tackle and batted away two passes, including one on a third-&-5 throw from Jeff Rowe in the second quarter that was intended for Caleb Spencer, forcing Nevada to punt...Also gained 85 yards on kickoff returns that netted 44 & 41 yards...Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#87-Caleb Spencer-No catches.
Utah...Returned to action in a reserve role, posting four tackles...Assisted in stopping Darryl Poston for a 1-yard loss on a first-&-goal run midway into the second quarter... Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#16-Brian Hernandez-Five catches for 50 yards.
Texas Christian...Playing in the nickel package, Wright posted two solo tackles and deflected one pass...He also got to play on offense, carrying for a 34-yard gain on a second-&-10 run with 2:31 left in the third quarter...Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#19-Michael DePriest-No catches (note-DePriest caught a 34-yard touchdown, but Wright was not playing at the time).
Wyoming...Started at left cornerback, responding with four tackles...Stopped Tyler Holden after a 1-yard gain on a third-&-2 throw from Karsten Sween early in the second quarter...Ran for 2 yards on a rushing attempt with 6:13 left in the first half...Main Pass Coverage Assignment- WR#5-Tyler Holden-Five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Air Force...Closed out his career with two tackles...Chased down Ryan Williams after the tailback bolted 43 yards on a rushing attempt midway through the second quarter...Main Pass Coverage Assignment-WR#7-Mark Root-Four catches for 82 yards.
Sat out the season under NCAA transfer rules after enrolling at Nevada-Las Vegas... Switched from jersey #25 to #21 once he joined the Rebels' scout team.
Earned Freshman All-Pac 10 Conference honors from The Sporting News at Southern California...Played in thirteen games, starting at weak-side cornerback vs. Arizona, Notre Dame, UCLA and Oklahoma...Came off the bench at strong-side cornerback in the Orange Bowl vs. Oklahoma...Recorded 33 tackles (27 solos) with two sacks for minus 13 yards... Recovered one fumble and intercepted two passes for 22 yards in returns...Also batted away six passes.
2004 GAME HIGHLIGHTS
Virginia Tech...Made his collegiate debut by posting a pair of solo tackles.
Colorado State...Had his first career interception and delivered two tackles.
California...Posted a season-high five tackles and had a fumble recovery on a punt that set up a field goal.
Arizona State...Added a 6-yard sack of QB Andrew Walter, a pass deflection and three tackles.
Washington...Deflected a pair of passes.
Arizona and Notre Dame...Registered four tackles in each game...Also broke up two passes vs. the Irish.
UCLA...Sacked QB Drew Olson for a 7-yard loss and matched his season-high with five tackles.
Oklahoma (Orange Bowl)...Produced four tackles and intercepted a Jason White pass for a 22- yard return.
Redshirted as a freshman at Southern California.
CAMPUS AGILITY TESTS
4.47 in the 40-yard dash...310-pound bench press...520-pound squat...4.05 20-yard shuttle...31 ¾-inch arm length...9 ¼-inch hands.
COMBINE AGILITY TESTS
4.42 in the 40-yard dash...1.57 10-yard dash...2.59 20-yard dash...4.23 20-yard shuttle...11.59 60-yard shuttle...6.93 three-cone drill...36.5-inch vertical jump...10'3" broad jump...Bench pressed 225 pounds 16 times.
Attended Archbishop Riordan (San Francisco, Cal.) High School...2002 Super Prep All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, All-Northern California Co-MVP and San Francisco Chronicle All-Metro first team honoree as a senior running back and defensive back...As a senior, he rushed for 1,166 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 18 passes for 268 yards (14.9 avg) with four scores on offense...Added 80 tackles (31 solos), four forced fumbles, two interceptions and ten pass deflections on defense...Member of the track team, with bests of 10.74 wind-aided in the 100 meters (10.83 legal) and 23-4 3/4 in the long jump.
University Studies major...Son of Mia Williams and Talim Wright...Born Eric Andrew Wright on 7/24/85 in San Francisco, California.
STATS GP GS TK SO AS FR FC INT TFL PBU SACK BK
2004 13 04 33 27 6 1 0 2 2.0-13 6 2.0-13 0
2006 09 06 29 17 12 0 1 1 0.5- 0 8 0.0- 0 0
TOTAL 22 10 62 44 18 1 1 3 2.5-13 14 2.0-13 0
KICKOFF RETURNS RUSHING STATISTICS
STATS NO YARDS AVG TD LONG NO YARDS AVG TD LONG
2006 18 430 23.9 0 54 2 36 18.0 0 34
STATS NO YARDS AVG TD LONG
2004 2 22 11.0 0 22
2006 1 32 32.0 0 32
TOTAL 3 54 18.0 0 32