The Cardinals thought highly enough of TCU LB Daryl Washington to trade up 11 spots in the second round with New England in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 89).
Considering the price they paid, one might suspect Washington could possibly fill the glaring hole in the middle of the Cardinals' defense that opened up when Karlos Dansby, the team's leading tackler last year, signed with the Dolphins on the first full day of free agency.
But Washington was projected as PFW's fourth highest-rated outside linebacker. And with the benefit of still having another third-round pick (No. 88) courtesy of the trade with the Ravens for WR Anquan Boldin, who split from the desert on the same day as Dansby, it would appear Washington is being counted on more in the future than the present.
The reason is the Cardinals have two pretty solid veteran outside ’backers who figure to be the starters in 2009 — newly acquired Joey Porter, one of the NFL's most accomplished active pass rushers, and Clark Haggans, who might have been the team's most consistent defender last season.
It is worth noting, however that both Porter and Haggans, who should serve as tremendous mentors for the naturally gifted Washington, are 33 years old, which could result in Washington making his presence felt in a big way in the not too distant future.
The Cardinals no doubt had to be enamored with Washington's eye-popping college numbers at TCU in 2009 (109 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and two sacks).
But he did not start until his senior year because he had trouble gaining weight and comes up a little short in the strength department.
However, John Lott, the Cardinals' strength-and-conditioning coach, is considered arguably the best in the business, and Washington does have a frame that should allow him to put on weight.
Washington has toughness, excellent speed and great athleticism. He's no Dansby, but he very well could end up following in the accomplished footsteps of Porter and Haggans before too long and, in spot situations, bolster the team's pass rush right away.
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