After meeting first-round pick DT Dan Williams in the first installment of a series previewing the Arizona Cardinals' incoming rookies, the focus now turns to LB Daryl Washington. Washington was selected with the 47th pick in the second round after the Cardinals traded up to select the former TCU star. Washington joins a loaded Arizona linebacking corps that was once severely depleted during the offseason.
Following the losses of LB Karlos Dansby and FS Antrel Rolle, the future of the Cardinals' defense was in doubt. Dansby was an especially tough loss given his productivity during his tenure in Arizona and the team's thin depth at the linebacker position. In addition, losses such as Calvin Pace prior to the 2008 season as well as Bertrand Berry and Chike Okeafor were beginning to add up.
Washington was a part of an outstanding defense at TCU, ranking as the nations' top defensive unit in 2009. Washington accumulated 219 tackles during his four-year career with the Horned Frogs, including a team-high 109 stops as a senior. Washington added three sacks and an interception, wrapping up his collegiate career as an All-American selection by several different outlets. Washington was a semifinalist for the Butkis Award given to the top college linebacker and accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl.
Although he lacks ideal bulk at the NFL level, Washington has recently added to his frame and is expected to continue that trend under Cardinals' strength coach John Lott. Despite his lack of bulk, Washington displays an extremely physical presence at the linebacker position and plays with great awareness and instincts. In addition, his ability to contribute in run defense and drop back in coverage makes him invaluable in the 3-4 defensive scheme.
While Dansby is no longer in the desert, Washington will be able to learn from veteran linebackers Gerald Hayes and Lenon, who was signed as a free agent in the offseason. If Washington's inefficiencies at the point of attack limit him on the interior, he possesses the ability to play on the outside as well. However, with free-agent addition Joey Porter and Cody Brown returning from injury, Washington's greatest contributions would come at the inside linebacker position.
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