Phil Emery may have gotten the best talent in the draft in the back end of the 2013 NFL Draft thanks to players like Marquess Wilson and Cornelius Washington from Georgia. Washington is an explosive pass rusher who shows a tremendous first step and speed to the outside. Washington has the length, the size and speed to be an effective base 4-3 defensive end in this scheme. He's not a versatile player, Washington is pure talented DE who could position himself to push Shea McClellin for playing time.
Where as Shea McClellin is under-sized and is carrying weight that maximizes his 6-foot-3 frame, Washington could ideally slide into the situational pass rusher role during the 2013 season. What you see from Washington is a player who is just as raw as McClellin but equal parts explosive and athletic as a pass rusher off the edge.
Washington was rated as high as second r0und draft pick by ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. but fell to the Bears in the sixth round. While at Georgia he played out of position, much like McClellin is now and as a result his play suffered.
He started one game as a strong-side DE, six as a weak-side linebacker, and 10 as a weak-side defensive end. Washington will now have the chance to showcase his ability as a base end in the 4-3 defense, and is expected to come in and push the veterans at the position. While at Georgia, Washington racked up 25 starts, 76 career tackles, 10.5 career sacks and 63 career QB pressures.
“He had been rotated to different spots in his career Emery said, We really see that if we put him in one spot and let him develop in that spot and that would be D-end for us, left D-end – let him grow from there - because the guy has a tremendously explosive first-step. I mean, obviously, the test numbers spell out what he is in terms of the explosiveness in his body.”
The draft strategy, or overarching theme emerging from the last two NFL drafts, is Emery likes to target elite athletes. Washington fits into the elite athletic category, having graded out among the top performers at each position drill at the NFL combine. He ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, put up 36 reps on the bench press, posted a 39-inch vertical leap, and nailed a broad jump of 10-feet-8-inches.
In terms of overall explosiveness off the edge, Washington may be one of the quickest players off the edge currently on the roster. He will be asked to simply put his hand on the dirt, pin his ears back and rush the passer.
The position switch will likely benefit Washington has he steps into a situational pass rushing role. As a sixth round draft pick Washington compares to another former late round prospect from the SEC Mark Anderson. Anderson came in as a fifth round pick from Alabama in 2006 and racked up 12 sacks his rookie year. Washington however, is a bit bigger than Anderson, who weighed in at around 250-pounds as a rookie. The hope is Washington can come in and compete for the fourth defensive end spot to lessen the load on Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton, the likely starters in 2013