Patriots

4 things to know about new Patriots CB Shaun Wade, formerly considered a first-round talent

The Patriots acquired Wade for a pair of future draft picks.

Shaun Wade
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Shaun Wade walks to a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers. AP Photo/Nell Redmond

The Patriots acquired rookie cornerback Shaun Wade from the Ravens on Thursday, sending out a pair of future picks for a player once considered a first-round talent.

Here are four things to know about Wade.

Wade was Player of the Year in high school

Prior to the 2020 season, Wade was one of the best defensive players in college football. A five-star recruit coming out of high school, he was USA Today’s High School Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. He was named defensive back of the year at the All-American game that year as well.

Wade was ejected from the 2019 NCAA semifinals for targeting Trevor Lawrence

In 2019, Ohio State took on Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl — the NCAA semifinals. Early in the game, Ohio State took a 16-0 lead and appeared on course for a trip to the Finals.

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Then, on third and five late in the second quarter, a massive gap opened up in Clemson’s protection in front of quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Wade took off for Lawrence and dragged him down for a huge loss. Wade scampered off the field, only to hear from teammates that they thought he was about to be kicked out of the game.

“I was like, ‘For what?'” Wade told ESPN a year later.

The answer? Targeting. No player is allowed to hit the opponent with the crown of his head. Wade crashed his helmet into Lawrence’s, and the star quarterback went down hard.

“Just hit me right in the side of the head,” Lawrence told ESPN. “That was a hard hit. Gave me a little stinger, knocked me down for a little bit. …

“I just hate to see a great player like him have to miss the rest of the game. I could see a penalty, whatever. But that was kind of tough.”

Clemson rallied back and won the game as Wade remained in the locker room. The sting of that loss, according to his family, propelled him to return for another season in college — which proved costly to his draft stock. Wade and Ohio State got their revenge however: In the semifinals, they once again faced Lawrence and Clemson. This time, the Buckeyes claimed a 49-28 victory. Wade tied for the team lead in tackles with nine.

Wade wore No. 24 in college to honor his late friend

In an emotional feature on NFL.com published in March, Wade — a native of Jacksonville, FL — talked extensively about Jacoby Wright, a close friend who was the victim of a homicide in 2015. According to Wade, Wright helped shelter him and kept him away from violence in Jacksonville even as a violent lifestyle began to consume Wright himself.

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In return, Wade tried to convince Wright to join him at Trinity Christian Academy, where the duo could play football together in a safer environment. But Wright began pulling away from his friends, and he was found dead in December. Police ruled his killing — one of 113 that year in Jacksonville — a justifiable homicide.

Wade wore Wright’s AAU basketball number — 24 — throughout his time at Ohio State and hoped to wear it in the NFL, but he was No. 29 in Baltimore. In New England, Wade is likely out of luck again — No. 24 belongs to the top cornerback on the roster, Stephon Gilmore. Still, expect to see Wade sporting the letters “B.L.I.C” for “Balling Like I’m Coby” on his apparel in the NFL.

The full feature on Wade’s connection to Wright is well worth a read.

Wade’s lack of development in 2020 isn’t unique

Presumably, Wade is disappointed that he went in the fifth round instead of the first, but as one AFC scout told NFL.com, plenty of players went through the same issues last season.

“He didn’t really show what everyone was hoping to see (in 2020), but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be that guy,” the scout said. “If you want to talk about draft prospects who didn’t develop much in 2020, Shaun Wade is just one name on a long list.”

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If Wade can work his way into the Patriots’ rotation at cornerback, he could be a useful acquisition.

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