First-round selections in the NFL Draft are naturally expected to make an big impact for whichever team selects them on Day 1.
Rather than fearing those lofty expectations, new Bears offensive lineman Darnell Wright, who was drafted with the 10th overall pick Thursday night, is eager to approach them in his rookie season.
"I embrace expectations upon myself," Wright said in his introductory press conference at Halas Hall Friday. "I have expectations upon myself bigger than just football. I have expectations to take care of my family. I don't know what my role for the team is, but whatever that role is I'm going to take it full on and do my best I can.
"So, I'm not sure what that role is, whether it's play right tackle or play wide receiver. Somebody tell coach that. But whatever that role is I just want to try to do my best, whatever I can do."
Feeling that pressure to perform in high-stakes situations isn't anything new to Wright, who played four seasons at Tennessee, regularly facing some of the top collegiate talent in the nation.
One of Wright's toughest tasks as a collegiate offensive lineman came in October last season when the Volunteers had the opportunity to snap a 15-game losing streak to SEC rival Alabama.
Playing right tackle, Wright went head-to-head with one of the best defensive players in college – linebacker Will Anderson – and limited his production to three tackles and 0.5 tackles-for loss. What stood out the most to Wright was the trust Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel displayed in him to almost singlehandedly contain Anderson, who was drafted at No. 3 by Houston Thursday.
"[Heupel] trusted me to get the job done, whatever that job may be, and I knew it was a big game," Wright said. "You could sit there and act like it's not, but every third Saturday in October it's going to be rocking and rolling. I'm just happy that they entrusted me because my process each week, they see what I do each week and how I approach the game."
The energy and ferocity Wright exemplified against one of college football's powerhouse programs is exactly what he aims to add to the Bears in 2023. For Wright, that begins with protecting his new quarterback – third-year pro Justin Fields.
Wright told reporters he was excited to hear from Fields last night as the QB sent him a congratulatory text. When asked about the opportunity to block for Fields, Wright said, "that's my only plan."
"That's my job to keep him clean," Wright said. "Amazing, amazing quarterback and the things he does, we're going to have a great team. We're going to have a very good team and it's going to be great. Whatever I can do, no matter what that role is for the team, protecting him is going to be my job.
"You think about last year, the things that he did, he seems like he's just getting better and better and better. I'm happy to be here and do whatever I can for him."
Wright is ready to start his journey with the Bears, but he's still in a state of shock after becoming a top-10 draft pick less than 24 hours ago.
While he made his way through Halas Hall for the first time Friday afternoon, sitting with several coaches and staff members, the moment was still extremely emotional and surreal.
"I feel like as a player you dream for this moment for a long time," Wright said. "I never had a plan B. Once it happens, it doesn't really sink in. You still can't believe it.
I'm sitting here in front of y'all right now and I feel like it's not really me right now. So I don't know. It's a little bit unbelievable and it just hasn't sunk in yet."