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COMBINE NOTEBOOK: Could Wright III Be The Next Zach Thomas?; Other Notes

Posted Feb 27, 2016

Wright won a couple of national defensive player of the year awards (Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Narguski) in 2014 before injuries hampered him last season.

INDIANAPOLIS — It was 20 years ago that the Dolphins made the brilliant decision to select in the fifth round of the draft an undersized linebacker with a perceived lack of elite athleticism, a player who merely would go on to become one of the best defenders in franchise history.

Now, it appears there’s a Zach Thomas clone at the 2016 scouting combine.

In the prospect profile section on NFL.com, this is what an AFC East area scout anonymously said about University of Arizona linebacker Philip “Scooby” Wright III: “Make Zach Thomas your comp for him. They are the exact same guy.”

Wright, who won a couple of national defensive player of the year awards (Chuck Bednarik, Bronko Narguski) in 2014 before injuries hampered him last season, was asked about the Thomas comparison Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

He more than welcomed the comparison, although he said he wasn’t sure he was worthy of it.

“I’ve heard that a few times, but to be mentioned in the same sentence as Zach Thomas is kind of a compliment in itself,” Wright said. “He was my favorite player growing up as a kid. I don’t have the street cred to be mentioned in the same sentence as him.”

“It was just his motor and the way he played football. He played intense as hell and he was passionate about the game.”

The same applies to Wright, who at 6 feet is a tad taller than Thomas.

Wright says his motor is “second to none in this draft,” but he takes exception to the notion he lacks athleticism, pointing to one stat in his phenomenal 2014 season, after which he also was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“You don’t have 31 tackles for loss for being slow.”

When he was asked what he would bring to an NFL team, his answer sounded like something straight out of Thomas’ mouth.

“That I’m going to work every day,” Wright said, “that I’m going to be the first in the facility every day and the last to leave.”


Stony Brook defensive end Victor Ochi is trying to duplicate the feat achieved by Dolphins defensive end Terrence Fede two years ago: become the first player from his school to get drafted.

“It would mean a lot,” Ochi said. “That’s history. It’ll be a very humbling experience for me. I want to give something back to the school because that was the one school that took the chance to give me a full scholarship. So to be the first player drafted from over there would be an honor.”

Ochi is a 6-foot-1, 246-pound pass-rushing specialist. He finished with 13 sacks in 2015 after recording 11 the previous season.

He has drawn comparisons to Baltimore Ravens pass rusher Elvis Dumervil, who is just one of the players Ochi says he admires.

“I like watching all type of pass rushers,” Ochi said. “I watch Dumervil. I like watching James Harrison and Von Miller. When I put on my hands on the ground, I like watching Cameron Wake, too, because his get-off is phenomenal.”
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