Daryl Washington, ILB, TCU
Height and Weight: 6'3, 230 lbs
Washington spent the first two seasons of his college career at TCU as a solid contributor on special teams. During the two years, Washington blocked four kicks and was the primary leader on the kick coverage unit, compiling 48 tackles. In 2008 he appeared in nine games(three as a starter), recording 63 tackles. After starter Jason Phillips left for the draft in 2009, Washington was the primary man to fill the void on the inside. He finally started a whole season on defense, recording 109 tackles, 11 for a loss, two sacks, and three interceptions, as 2009 was by-far his best season at TCU.
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Projected Round: 1st - 2nd
Washington is one of the only true inside linebackers that have been projected to land in the first two rounds of the draft. He's 6'3 and plays much bigger then his actual size. He's an explosive linebacker that has uses straight line speed to reach the quarterback on blitzing plays. He's quick enough to avoid running back blocks and guard cut blocks. Against the pass, Washington is fluid in space. He's a sideline to sideline linebacker and stays with his receivers in his zone. Washington has the speed to hang with any tight end down the seam and he likes to smother receivers, making it hard for quarterbacks to throw over him. He uses his length to tackle ball carriers and has the speed to make up for mistakes. Washington's reaction time is quick and he explodes into lanes to disrupt plays. He's improved every year in college and has a tremendous amount of potential. He didn't have any character issues at TCU and has a strong work ethic.
Washington has the frame to be an ideal inside linebacker, but still needs to bulk up and add lower body strength once he's at the next level. He's also not a strong tackler and needs to sink his hips instead of wrapping around the shoulder pads. He could also work on taking better angles, because quicker NFL backs will get past him. He'll often get too upright during his back pedal and struggles to intercept passes, even when thrown directly at him. He needs to develop more techniques when rushing the quarterback. His lack of college experience is concerning, and is the primary reason he could fall to the 2nd round.
Although Washington has only started one full season, he's shown the ability to improve gradually each year. If he can add more bulk to his frame and work on his tackling, he'll be the ideal package in the middle of the defense. Most mock drafts have him falling to the middle of the 2nd round, but Washington does have the potential to sneak inside the first.
The Cardinals need an inside linebacker and Washington fits that profile. He's a true ILB that has played in a 3-4 defense already. Washington would bring a different element to the Cardinals linebacking unit that they currently don't have - speed. He may not be ready to start in the NFL, but he can learn under the wing of a veteran(which Whisenhunt prefers) and can add solid depth and special teams play. The only problem is where Washington will land in the draft. Should the Cardinals reach for him with the 26th pick, or should they hope that he falls late in the 2nd round? What are your thoughts on Washington?