As a member of Georgia’s defense, Cornelius Washington never emerged from the shadow of linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree.
He had a coming-out party in Indianapolis.
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Washington entered the NFL combine a relative unknown and left a hot commodity after running the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds, bench-pressing 225 pounds 36 times and making a vertical jump of 39 inches. Washington, who played outside linebacker and defensive end for the Bulldogs, had a 40 time better suited for the tailback group, as he matched Florida’s Mike Gillislee and Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy and was faster than Clemson’s Andre Ellington (4.61) and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball (4.66).
“This is the kind of guy I came to Indy to find,” one NFL defensive coordinator said after Washington’s dazzling performance.
Washington’s 36 bench reps were seven more than the next linebacker, and he jumped two inches higher than Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who did nothing to jeopardize his prospects of being the first receiver taken in April. ESPN analyst Mel Kiper projected Washington earlier this year as a third- or fourth-round selection.
With the Bulldogs, Washington bounced between defensive end and outside linebacker in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme. His modest career numbers consisted of 76 tackles and 10 sacks, and he had just half a sack as a senior.
His most memorable play was a blocked field goal in December’s SEC championship game that Ogletree returned for a touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 21-10 in their eventual 32-28 loss to Alabama.