Before he even played a down in the NFL, cornerback Shaun Wade was traded to the New England Patriots.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 26, 2021
Wade was a star during his first four years in college, being named a Consensus All-American and first-team All-Big Ten in 2020 with Ohio State.
He was also the Buckeyes first ever recipient of the Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year award last season.
Wade was selected in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL at pick No. 160 by the Baltimore Ravens.
He seemed to be making a strong transition to the NFL as he intercepted Ian Book in the Ravens’ Week 1 preseason 17-14 win over the New Orleans Saints.
— Barstool OSU (@BarstoolOSU) August 15, 2021
But with Wade unlikely to make the Ravens, they decided to trade him to the Patriots for a yet to be disclosed return.
If Wade entered the 2020 NFL Draft, he reportedly would have gone in the first round.
Now, he is a fifth-round draft pick already on his second NFL team.
Wade still has time to turn it around, but his stock has taken a huge dip from just a few seasons ago.
What Went Wrong
As a senior, Wade moved from slot cornerback to the outside.
While he still racked up accolades, he seemed to struggle in his new position.
It was evident as Ohio State took on Alabama in the National Championship Game.
The Crimson Tide won that game 52-24 while number one receiver DeVonta Smith caught 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns.
The same Smith that Wade was covering.
Devonta Smith – National Championship
12 receptions, 215 yards and 3 TDs pic.twitter.com/RIDsc4Sc4D
— Donmegah (@donmegah) January 12, 2021
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein summed up Wade’s fall in his draft profile of the Ohio State cornerback, saying he looked stiff and out of place on the outside:
“Teams could still be intrigued with Wade’s size and length, but he looked slow in recovery mode and lacked confidence and body control when attempting to match routes and stay connected in man coverage this past season. He doesn’t have shifty, short-area footwork to match quicker slots and was beaten badly as an outside corner when matched against future NFL talent. Wade needs to get his fundamentals right and find the right position and scheme fit in order to be more than an average backup in the league.”
Heading into the 2020 college football season, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Wade ranked as the seventh overall player on his big board.
Following the season, he had him ranked as the 16th overall cornerback.
Last season, while speaking on NFL Network’s Draft Kickoff Show, Ian Rapoport confirmed what many people had assumed in that had he declared in 2020, he would have been a first-round pick:
“Had he come out last year, he probably would have been a first-round pick, at least in the conversation for a first-round pick,” Rapoport said. “He tried to do the right thing, went back to college, just a really brutal year. I talked to several scouts and evaluators about Wade. As one said, this year’s film is really bad. The (Pro Day) workout is just okay. I know that the scouts on this evaluator’s team just didn’t really like him.”
Despite his name brand potential, Wade’s poor 2020 season cost him heading into his NFL career.
How He Can Turn It Around
Wade’s trade to the Patriots could be looked at in two ways.
One is that the Ravens simply had too much depth and decided to give up on him.
Two would be that Bill Belichick saw a developmental prospect and decided to take a chance on him.
Either way, Wade’s life in the NFL already seems to be hanging by a thread.
He has to prove himself in New England if he wants to remain in the league.
But no matter what the Patriots gave up to get him, clearly they see a talented player in Wade.
He has played both inside and outside at cornerback and could even play safety.
That versatility could be crucial as he looks to make the 53-man roster.
Wade will need to prove he can be a valuable backup.
But he is still just 22 years old.
He was a top-25 prospect entering college and showed spurts of greatness while at Ohio State.
His last season of football did him no favors, but he still has time to turn it around.
For Wade, he needs to make sure that turnaround comes soon.
If not, his trade to the Patriots could signal the end rather than a new beginning.NEXT: Sony Michel Joins List Of Bill Belichick's Recent Draft Busts