Cornelius Washington the DE/OLB from Georgia was probably not on anyone’s radar until this past week at the combine in Indianapolis. I think he might be the type of player the Jets should put high on their board, not as an early round candidate, but as a later round prospect.
There are always a bunch of pass rusher prima-donna prospects in every draft that get all types of attention based on either one great college season, or a great combine. Vernon Gholston was one of those sexy picks that looked the part, and had the “great potential” label thrown on him. In 2013 there are players like Ezekiel Ansah, Dion Jordan, and a few others that are getting this 1st round grade because of athletic ability. However, if you look at their college production and actual game tape, instead of just what they did in a senior bowl or combine, you will see two different stories. I never understood the logic of using a high draft pick on a player that didn’t dominate his position in college and rewarding him with a high draft pick. I’m sure some of those players will be good, but I don’t think they will automatically be coached up to being a successful NFL player just because they can run fast, or jump high.
With that being said, the Jets have a good chance at taking one of those players with a lower round draft pick in Georgia’s Cornelius Washington. Lower risk, same reward. He was graded as a 5th-6th round draft pick at the end of the college season. He played defensive end and outside linebacker. He had very little production during his time, but he was used some, and showed decent production when used. UGA you will remember had Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree collecting the stats and accolades. If you check him out recently, he dominated offensive lineman in the Senior Bowl practices for a week, and followed that up with one of the top overall performances in the combine.
Despite his lack of production or playing time, I believe he had 18 QB hurries and 5 sacks in 2011, and another 11 hurries and 1 sack this past season in 2012. He tallied 22 tackles in 2012 and 17 total tackles in 2011 respectively. Granted his stats aren’t high, but his measurable are off the charts. He also blocked a kick for good measure.
In the combine he measured in at 6’4 with a 34” arm length. He ran a 4.55 40 yard dash showing a way above average straight line speed. His bench press was phenomenal for a defensive end, let alone an outside linebacker with 36 bench reps.
While it was hard for me to find a great deal of video of him specifically, he does have a great first step, a decent bull rush, and I saw an arm under technique a little bit. The Jets in particular would be interested in a later round player like this, provided he doesn’t rise too high in his pro day and individual work outs. They lost both starting outside linebackers in Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace. Also gone are Aaron Maybin, leaving them with Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp. They might be in a position of need, meaning drafting an early round OLB, and then signing or resigning a veteran. They may also want to draft a late round OLB to develop, to play special teams, and to get some burn as a situational pass rush or specialist of some kind. Cornelius Washington could fit that bill, and quickly develop into the outside linebacker we’ve all been waiting for since hearing Vernon Gholston’s name called years ago.