It took seven years, but the Arizona Wildcats have finally had another offensive player drafted.
Running back Gary Brightwell was selected by the New York Giants in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft on Saturday, making him the first ex-UA player from the offensive side of the ball to be picked since RB Ka’Deem Carey went in the fourth round to the Chicago Bears in 2014.
Brightwell was selected 196th overall, one spot behind fellow Wildcat Roy Lopez Jr., who was drafted 195th by the Houston Texans. The two picks are the most for Arizona since 2016 when safety Will Parks and linebacker Scooby Wright III were taken.
The 5-foot-11, 218 pound Brightwell ran for 1,305 yards and nine touchdowns in his UA career from 2017-20, including 390 yards and a TD during the COVID-shortened 2020 season as a senior. He also had 19 catches for 121 yards and a score, with 13 of those receptions coming last fall as he earned an all-Pac-12 honorable mention nod.
As a sixth-round pick, Brightwell is in line for a four-year contract with an estimated value of $3.658 million, including a $178,870 signing bonus, per Spotrac.
Brightwell joins a Giants team that ranked 19th in the NFL in rushing in 2020, averaging 110.5 yards per game. Former first-round pick Saquon Barkley is coming off a major knee injury, while the team also added veteran Devontae Booker during the offseason. Brightwell’s NFL.com draft profile gives him a 5.6 prospect rating, which translates to someone who has a chance to make the end of a roster or be on the practice squad.
“One-speed runner relying on size, urgency and toughness to make up for a lack of open-field talent,” wrote NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein. “He can hit the edge and turn the corner on counters and bounce-outs, but gets too impatient to cut runs back. Below-average vision diminishes his ability to get the most out of runs, but his loose lower body makes sharp cuts against the grain a successful weapon for him. He’s a tough runner, but lacks creativity and contact balance to stand out against others in this class, despite his traits.”