The Rise And Fall Of Shaun Wade And Where We've Seen It Before

In April's NFL Draft, The Baltimore Rvanes drafted Ohio State Corner Back Shaun Wade in the fifth round, and it was immediately hailed as a steal of the draft. Fast forward to August 26th, Wade has been traded to the New England Patriots for a 2022 seventh and 2023 fifth-round pick. Immediately there's a lot to unpack from this situation. Many Ravens fans are left scratching their heads while Patriot fans are celebrating for getting a young player with an incredibly high upside.

Wade was a 5-star and top 25 recruit coming out of high school and won National Defensive Back Of The Year as a senior. after redshirting as a freshman, Wade came back to be a standout as a slot corner. As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Wade had three interceptions, 31 tackles, seven pass breakups and played in all 14 games. In 2019, Wade primarily saw the field as a nickel corner where he played his best ball. That season he had one interception, eight pass breakups, 26 tackles, four for a loss, two sacks, and once again played in every game. he also earned third-team all-conference honors in 2019. after his 2019 campaign, Wade was eligible for the 2020 NFL Draft but decided to stay for his redshirt junior season. Now here's where things take a turn for the worst. Wade transitioned from his nickel role, where he had excelled, to the outside corner. On top of this, there also wasn't a full training camp due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, according to his father, Wade underwent surgery before the season and played all of 2020 in pain due to it. Now on paper, his stats might not look bad, 35 tackles, two interceptions, four pass breakups in the eight-game season. However, the troubling part is that the Shaun Wade lead secondary allowed 304.4 yards per game, which ranked 122nd in the country. Wade was named Consensus All-American after 2020, but that doesn't take away from the fact he and the entire OSU secondary struggled.

Lingering injuries and basically no experience or training at a new position lead to a disappointing season from Wade; however, I bring you this because if Wade entered the Draft in 2020, he was a projected first-round draft pick. However, due to a poor final season, Wade saw himself slide all the way to the fifth round, where Baltimore selected him. Wade went from projected first-rounder to fifth-round to traded before his rookie season. Wade has a huge upside at the slot/nickel corner position. The issues Wade faced while transitioning from slot to outside Corner in his final collegiate season isn't something completely new.

For example, former Raiders Corner Nnamdi Asomugha was once viewed as a top Corner and struck fear in opposing QBs. An excellent press corner, with an incredibly high IQ, with great size and athletic ability. In '06, Nnamdi had 8 interceptions; in '07, QBs only threw towards him 31 times, only giving up 10 completion. In '08, QBs only threw towards him 27 times, allowing just eight completions. In '09, he only allowed 13 completions; in 2010, he only allowed 10 completions and didn't allow a single touchdown. However, Nnamdi was known as a Corner who wouldn't travel. he stuck to one side of the field and wouldn't follow the number 1 wide receiver around the field. The side he stuck to was also the right side, which is considered the easier side to play as most NFL QBs are right-handed and throw to their right or the left side of the defense far more often. In 2011, Nnamdi, who was well established as one of the best man corners in the league, went to the Eagles. At the time, the Eagles were primarily a team that used a Zone Defense. Now I bring you all this because in 2011, at 30 years old, Nnamdi was now facing a defensive scheme he had barely seen through his eight-year career. In 2011, the NFL also faced a lockout that didn't allow teams time to practice together, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now follow the similarities with me, Nnamdi naturally regresses due to age, Wade due to injuries. Nnamdi struggles in the new defensive scheme; Wade struggles in transitioning from nickel to outside corner. Both aren't able to get significant practice in their new roles, Nnamdi due to a lockout, Wade due to a worldwide pandemic. Now I bring you this final thought, that if Wade is put in the right system and used primarily in a nickel role, he has incredible upside and potential to be a top nickel corner in the league, and we all know if any team will get potential out of a player its Bill Belichick.

When comparing Wade's potential to the draft value, I will safely say as of right now; the Patriots won the trade.

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