Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright returned to practice this week in hopes of completing his recovery from a knee injury in time to play against UCLA Saturday. But although the 2014 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year hasn't played since the Wildcats' season-opening win over Texas-San Antonio, one NFL personnel executive has already figured out who he sees in the star junior: former Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas.
"He's very productive and instinctive, I'm not sure how big he is," the executive told Breer. "(So it's important to see) production against a big, good offensive line. See if he can avoid getting covered up by blockers."
UCLA's veteran offensive line qualifies, but it remains to be seen if Wright will play following surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus. He is listed as questionable, according to the Arizona Daily Star. If he does take the field, NFL scouts will witness his return in person. The San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots are expected to be represented at the game.
Thomas played 13 NFL seasons, 12 with the Miami Dolphins, and was named to seven Pro Bowls. At 5-foot-10, Thomas was significantly shorter than Wright, who is listed at 6-1, 246 pounds. Both were lightly recruited out of high school, yet went on to boast remarkably productive college careers. Thomas made 390 career tackles at Texas Tech and will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December. Wright led the NCAA last year with 163 tackles, including 14 sacks.
Wright, a junior, could be eligible for either the 2016 or 2017 NFL drafts.