Kevin C. Cox
Hidden on a very good Georgia Defense, Cornelius Washington has all the signs of a potential steal in the middle rounds of the Draft.
Stopping the pass has many aspects to it, and opinions vary as to whether pass rush is more important than covering receivers, or vice versa. I'm thinking if you can do both, it's much better for the Defense. A player that flew under the radar in the SEC to more productive teammates, but a guy that looks the part of a 3-4 OLB Pass rusher, is Cornelius Washington from Georgia.
Washington appeared in 51 games for the Bulldogs, starting in 25 of them. His numbers don't jump off the page at you, totaling only 76 tackles in his career, but did have 10.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He was on the field often, but his main job, other than just rushing the passer, was to eat up blockers so other guys on the team, such as Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, could make plays. Not a glorious job, but on a team with that much talent, some pretty good players get lost in the shuffle.
The obvious downside to Washington at this point is he's a pass-rush specialist only, which when you combine his lack of numbers to that, it's why he's being projected as a 4th or 5th round pick. His build is that of a stereotypical pass rusher, standing 6'4", and has speed and explosiveness that we saw at the Combine (4.55 40, 10'8" Broad Jump, 39" Vertical). There aren't many things that an NFL player can be a specialist at, but an elite pass rusher is one of them.
The addition of Erik Walden by the Colts raised some eyebrows, especially because most people who have watched him play say he's pretty good against the run and in pass coverage, but severely lacking when it comes to rushing the QB. With that in mind, a guy like Washington, who could come in to get at the QB, could be a nice addition by the Colts. With Robert Mathis on the other side, it would be nice to get back to the "meetings at the QB" we saw for nearly a decade. A 4th or 5th round pick doesn't seem like too much for such an important position, especially if he's as quick as his Combine performance suggests.
Tall, versatile defender who flashes excellent get-off to challenge tackles as a pass rusher with his hand on the ground or standing up. Possesses great length, which he uses to powerfully extend into blockers and to wrap up a leg on a ballcarrier running away from him. Flashes hands to rip off blocks from overextending tackles and tight ends, as well as the quickness to shoot inside to penetrate the B-gap to disrupt plays.
Often used as a third-down presence instead of a starter because of the team’s depth and scheme. Doesn’t own a counter move or the second effort to get past a solid block; teams need to see better stamina and hustle before projecting him as a starter.
STRENGTHS: Prototypical sack-artist frame, with lean, muscular tone and long arms. Exhibits a decent first step when asked to rush from a stand-up. Flashes some flexibility to flatten when he does reach the edge, and shows the ability to swim back to the inside with good use of hands. Decent lateral quickness for his size.
WEAKNESSES: Lacks consistent get off, and first-step explosiveness. Comes off the line too high and is often stopped in his tracks by bigger, more powerful linemen. Doesn't use his hands or arm length well on contact and too often allows blocker into his frame. Unable to generate consistent push or leverage on bull-rush attempts, and lacks natural power in his lower half.
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