Prospect: Cornelius Washington, OLB, GeorgiaCornelius Washington

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 265 lb.

Athleticism:

  • Sensational open field speed, blew up almost every event at the combine
  • Impressive burst to close despite often having a slow first step off the snap
  • Struggles to redirect in space, gets a bit heavy footed and leggy
  • Terrific length and a textbook body for a pass rusher
  • Lacks hip flexibility trying to bend around blocks, some overall stiffness to his movement
  • Extremely strong player with a thick, well-built frame

Intelligence/Effort:

  • Poor play recognition in general, every reaction seems a step or two behind
  • Lacks ball awareness, struggles to pick it up while engaged with blockers
  • Physicality level comes and goes, not always a rough and tumble player
  • Was essentially a rotational player for the Bulldogs more than a full-time defender
  • High motor guy who doesn’t take plays off, always pursuing the ball
  • Was arrested for speeding and DUI mid-season in 2011, suspended for two games as a result

Pass Rush:

  • Speed rush specialist if not entirely dependent on it
  • Sets up the corner rush well by attacking the blocker directly before taking a quick lateral step to get around the edge
  • Lacks creativity as a pass rusher, severely limited arsenal of moves with little power involved
  • Needs space to convert speed to power, power rush very limited as a whole
  • Development of his hand usage as a rusher well behind most other prospects, very athleticism/relentlessness dependent
  • Production didn’t match ability, partly due to being played out of position

Run Support:

  • Can get underneath the pads of blockers and push them back off the ball
  • Gets caught up battling the hands of blocks at the point of attack and is slow to disengage as a result
  • Lacks precision with his hands to free himself or create space
  • Often takes himself out of plays by guessing, unable to keep gap discipline at the line
  • Strong tackler who wraps well and drives his legs through contact
  • Gets to the ball at an alarmingly low rate considering his relatively high motor, red flags his ability to locate the ball and get off blocks

Coverage:

  • Coverage experience limited to short zone drops in zone blitz calls
  • Lacks much potential in coverage due to stiffness of hips and lack of foot suddenness
  • Seemingly low football IQ a worry when it comes to future coverage responsibilities

Overall:

Cornelius Washington drew praise from draft analysts after an impressive Senior Bowl and backed it up with a combine showing that was really unmatched among linebackers.  He’s actually a very experienced defender in Todd Grantham’s defense, with 25 career starts and appearances in far more.  The fact that he is so experienced, yet so raw in terms of technique is a bit troublesome.  Washington isn’t an overly instinctive player and often a step behind reaction-wise.  He also has a history of off the field issues, which isn’t a rarity for Georgia prospects.  His athleticism and upside is undeniable though.  He was entirely misused by the Georgia defense as a senior and his play suffered as a result.  Washington was often playing a 5 technique role with the occasional bump outside to the edge.  He’s a much more dangerous pass rusher coming from a wide alignment or a two point stance.  That would allow him to make use his speed around the corner and also generate power the room to operate.  His potential may bump him into the third round, but I would advise against drafting him any earlier than the fourth or fifth round.  Washington’s combine number and post-season showing will jump out to teams, but buyer beware.

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