'Dynamic' draft continues with Washington

Cornelius Washington made 22 tackles for Georgia last season. Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Keeping with the mantra of acquiring “dynamic” players, the Chicago Bears appeared to acquire another Saturday in the sixth round (188th overall) in Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington, who was considered by some to be a late second-round talent.

“I’m a little bit disappointed, but the call came,” Washington said. “That’s what’s really important.”

The addition beefs up an already fairly explosive Bears pass rush. If Washington adjusts quickly to the NFL game, he’ll become an immediate contributor as a situational pass rusher, which just might signify the end of Israel Idonije's tenure with the Bears.

Washington (6-4, 265 pounds) ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times at the NFL Combine, which ranked as tops among the linebackers in attendance. At Georgia, Washington played out of position as a five-technique, but will play defensive end for the Bears, which shouldn’t be a problem for him considering he routinely dominated offensive tackles in the SEC.

Washington made 14 starts at outside linebacker in 2010 and 2011 for the Bulldogs, before making 10 starts at defensive end for them last season and contributing 22 tackles and a half sack. Washington also blocked a field goal.

Bears general manager Phil Emery considers the vertical leap to be one of the key indicators of how a prospect’s explosion will translate at the NFL level. Well, Washington posted a 39-inch vertical leap at the NFL Combine, which ranked second among linebackers.

Washington’s combination of speed, power and versatility (has played out of a two-point and three-point stance) no doubt enticed the Bears to take a shot on a player suspended two games in 2011 after being arrested for a DUI, and who was considered somewhat of a character risk, despite receiving second-round grades from scouts, and even ESPN Draft Analyst Mel Kiper.

Inserted as a situational pass rusher alongside Julius Peppers, who could be kicked inside, Shea McClellin and Henry Melton, Washington could make for an extremely potent force on third downs.

Outside of Washington’s character concerns, another negative about the new Bear is what’s believed to be a lack of instincts, which could be a result of playing out of position at Georgia. According to the Pro Football Weekly draft preview, Washington’s “motor runs hot and cold,” he “disappears for stretches” and “coachability” could also be a question mark, but the new Bear “could find himself in a Pro Bowl in a short time if he learns to channel his energy all of the time, stays focus, and learn what it means to compete.”

That’s likely what prompted the Bears to take a chance on Washington, despite the club going into the draft with seven defensive ends already on the roster.

Peppers and McClellin are tops on Chicago’s depth chart, followed by Corey Wootton and free-agent additions Turk McBride and Kyle Moore going into training camp. But there’s a good chance Washington could wind up unseating one of the players below Peppers and McClellin.

“There was nothing I was made aware of (as to why I dropped in the draft),” Washington said. “Me and my agent still are shocked. I have no idea what was going on. But I’ve got an opportunity. It’s still a blessing. I’m blessed to even be drafted all. I’m not bitter. I’m just ready to get to work.”