The Tampa Bay scouting staff spent the week in St. Petersburg evaluating the talent for Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, and the Bucs spent considerable time looking at some of the speed wide receivers during the practices. One of those players that the Bucs were targeting – and interviewed – was Arkansas’ Jarius Wright, who finished his senior season with 66 catches for 1,117 yards and 12 touchdowns, and capped off his Razorbacks career with 168 receptions for 2,934 yards and 24 TDs.
In a 42-38 win over Texas A&M in 2011, the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Wright had a career day with 13 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 21.6 yards per catch. Wright, who is blessed with 4.34 speed and is currently slated to be a fourth-round pick, spoke with PewterReport.com during the week to discuss how the East-West Shrine practices were going, his thoughts on two of the 2012 NFL Draft’s top cornerbacks and his thoughts on the Buccaneers.
Jarius, you capped off a great season with a TD in the Cotton Bowl against Kansas State in the Razorbacks’ victory over the Wildcats. That had to be a great way to end your college career.
“Getting a chance to play in the Cotton Bowl, which is a great bowl game, was a real positive. Getting a victory in your last college game and going out in style was great. We also went out with 11 wins, which was the third time in school history that has been done at Arkansas. It was good to go out the way I did.”
There’s no shame in Arkansas only losing to Alabama and LSU this year, is there?
“There’s no shame in losing to the two national championship teams. If we were going to lose two, I’d rather lose to those two.”
You went up against two of the top cornerbacks in the nation in LSU’s Morris Claiborne and Alabama’s Dre Kirkpatrick. What is your scouting report on those two top 10 draft picks?
“Kirkpatrick is a great corner. He has great size and speed. He’s a physical cornerback and uses his size against you. If you ask me, he knows how to use his size and he’s a real smart player. As for Claiborne, he’s more of a quicker guy. He has great technique and hands. Both of those guys are fun to play against and watch.”
Speed is your calling card. Every NFL team wants more speed.
“It’s something I pride myself in. I try to come out and play each play as fast as I can. I want to show scouts that I can run real well.”
You had some uncharacteristic drops in Monday’s practice, but seemed to rebound from that.
“It was uncharacteristic of me to do that. I’m still upset with myself over that. I just have to do a better job of focusing and looking the ball all the way in. I don’t want to make any excuses. I think it had to do a little bit with being my first day back at football and being with new guys and getting used to things.”
When you talk to NFL scouts and coaches, what areas do they say that you have to work on?
“I need to work on a lot of the little things. I have to get out of my breaks faster because every ball is going to be contested in the NFL. I have to do better at looking the ball all the way in until I tuck it. I didn’t think I did a good job of that on Monday.”
Talk about your Arkansas teammate, wide receiver and return man Joe Adams, who returned four punts for touchdowns this year, including one in the Cotton Bowl.
“Joe Adams is a great guy and he’s fun to be around. He’s great on and off the field. Joe is the type of guy that you want to get the ball in his hands any way possible. If he has the ball in his hands, he’ll find a way to make a play. He’s so fast and quick.”
Although Adams got to handle the return game at Arkansas, can you make an impact on special teams as a returner in the NFL with your speed?
“I definitely feel like I could help a team on special teams in the kicking game. I’m out here fielding punts and trying to show my ability. It was Joe’s job at Arkansas and I didn’t have much of a chance to showcase that, but I will be able to help an NFL team in the return game.”
What do you want to learn and take away from this week at the East-West Shrine Game?
“I wanted to have a great time with these guys and show scouts my skills. I wanted to show them that my size is not a problem for me and that I can play with the best.”
You want to prove that despite your size you are not just a slot guy, but you can also play outside, right?
“That’s another thing I want to show scouts. I want them to see I can play outside and not just in the slot. I can be a great inside receiver and also outside and excel at both. The most versatile you are the better your stock is going to be in the NFL.”
What do you know about the Buccaneers? Josh Freeman and Tampa Bay needs a speed receiver.
“I watched Freeman at K-State. I remember thinking, ‘Who is that big quarterback they have there?’ I followed him a little bit with the Buccaneers and he’s already had some success in the NFL. I really don’t know too much about the Bucs receiving corps outside of Arrelious Benn. They are young guys. I know that. Benn is a big guy. They could probably use a speed guy like myself.”