The 2013 NFL draft will surely contain its fair share of hidden gems, and former Connecticut cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson may prove to be one of the most valuable.
Given the recent success of tall, strong NFL corners such as Seattle's Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, Wreh-Wilson's build has to be attractive to pro scouts.
The top tier of cornerbacks in this year's draft includes Alabama's Dee Milliner, Florida State's Xavier Rhodes, Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks and Washington's Desmond Trufant.
Each of these players exceeds either six feet in height or 200 pounds, reflecting the emphasis on size at cornerback at the next level.
However, this entire first tier will likely be off the board by the middle of the second round.
Wreh-Wilson, standing in at 6'1" and 190 pounds, is projected to go in the middle rounds, providing elite size at an excellent bargain.
The former Husky's most impressive feature is perhaps his long arms. His 32" arm length eclipses that of many offensive tackles, allowing him to press receivers at the line of scrimmage and go up to attack the ball at the highest point.
Wreh-Wilson's outstanding length should allow him to match up well against some of the NFL's larger receivers, though he could afford to add some bulk.
His height also allows for a long stride, giving the cornerback good 4.49 speed. While he does not have elite straight-line wheels, he certainly has enough to keep up with outside receivers.
His frame does present a few challenges, however. Wreh-Wilson needs to improve his balance, as some shorter receivers are able to get leverage off of the ball. He is also not the smoothest, most fluid athlete when backpedaling or turning his hips.
The former Connecticut stud must learn to tackle with his body rather than his arms as well.
However, this does not mean that he shies away from supporting the run defense. On the contrary, Wreh-Wilson is both willing and capable of shedding blocks and stepping up to meet the ball-carrier, often showing exceptional toughness when diving at the legs of pulling blockers to clog running lanes.
The long cornerback also has solid ball skills, making a habit of looking back for the pigskin and playing it in the air.
Overall, Wreh-Wilson may not blow anyone away during his rookie season, but his long arms and tall frame make him an extremely valuable weapon. With some increased bulk and a bit more practice in his backpedal, it is scary to think about what he could accomplish on the outside.
For these reasons, Wreh-Wilson should provide great value in the middle rounds, especially with the increased emphasis on size at cornerback in the NFL.
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