Just when you thought they were done bringing in starting-caliber receivers, the Argos sign American WR Isaiah Wright. The question is what to do with him.
In 2020, after four seasons at Temple, Wright signed as an UDFA with the Washington Football Team. He was likely signed for his outstanding kick and punt return ability, but he soon made his way onto the field as a receiver. He finished the season with 27 catches for 197 yards, but was released on final cutdown day prior to the start of the 2021 season.
At 6’2”, 220lbs, Wright looks every bit the big physical slot receiver, but that’s not really who he is. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great slot receiver, and I’m sure the Argos brought him in to compete with Eric Rogers, but honestly, I love him as a CFL running back.
He’s played everywhere on offense. He began his career at Temple as a running back and wildcat quarterback, logging 42 carries for 232 yards as a freshman. He continued to get wildcat snaps as a sophomore, but he also led the Owls in receptions, almost exclusively from the slot. As a junior, he played all over the place, but his offensive productions saw a bit of a decline. Then, in his senior season, half of his snaps were on the outside, by far the most in his career. He set career highs in receptions and touchdowns that year, but most of his success came early in the season with his play dropping off down the stretch.
The most consistent element of Wright’s game has been his special teams play. As an Owl he logged 84 kick returns averaging 24.2 yards per return with two touchdowns, and 43 punt returns averaging 10.3 yards per return with three touchdowns. He was named first team All-AAC return specialist in 2018.
Wright has elite vision, which is what makes him such a good returner and running back. Physically, he looks like a receiver, and he’s a very good one, but when you watch his film, you’d swear you were watching a running back once the ball is in his hands. As a ball-carrier, his lateral movement is explosive, yet you don’t see that same explosion in his change of direction as a route-runner. He has good speed for a receiver his size, but his most frustrating trait is he doesn’t play like a big receiver. He’s not particularly good in contested catch situations or over the middle of the field, which is probably why Temple started lining him up outside as a senior. If you can just get him the ball in space, he’ll do the rest. In addition to corners and quick outs from the slot, I love him on jet sweeps, quick screens, and those Dinwiddie jailbreaks we saw Ricky Collins Jr run so many times last year.
Wright will certainly be in play as a returner, and I’m sure they’ll take a close look at him as a slot receiver, but given how few running backs the Argos currently have on their roster, it would be a shame if Wright doesn’t at least get a look there in training camp. They’re not short of backfield talent, but their receiving corps is overflowing and he’s a gifted back who could make the most of his vision on a CFL field. For now, I’ll add him to the growing list of players I can’t wait to see in camp.