Various draft analyses projected Georgia defensive end/linebacker Cornelius Washington rated as high as a third-round draft pick. He fell to the sixth round. He isn’t happy about it.
“I’m a little bit discouraged,” Washington said. “But the call came and that’s the most important thing. Now I’m just ready to go out there and be a Chicago Bear and contribute to that team as much as I possibly can."
“There was [no reason] that I was made aware of. Me and my agent both were - still are – shocked. I have no idea what was going on. But you know, I’ve got an opportunity and that’s the most important thing. You know you turn something that’s mildly negative into a positive and it’s still a blessing. So I’m not bitter, just ready to get to work.”
Snubs can be hugely effective motivators. Legendary Bears center Jay Hilgenberg, an undrafted free agent who was voted to seven Pro Bowls, made a special mission out of dominating first-round draft choices throughout his career.
Defensive end Alex Brown was projected to be a first-rounder coming out of Florida. He fell to the fourth round after questions about his work ethic. Brown was angered and used the fall to fuel him in a career that included being a two-time Pro Bowl alternate with 43.5 career sacks.
The Bears would more than settle for that from Washington. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, who gave the Bears’ draft a very favorable review, recommended that the Bears just forget about Washington as a linebacker, put his hand on the ground “and tell him to go hunting quarterbacks.”
That is the plan.
“Chicago wants me to play defensive end and I’m very happy with that,” Washington said. “I’m very comfortable with the position. It’s actually a position that I was recruited to play in college and I’m happy with it. I’m going to have the ability to just go and rush and that’s the best thing for me so I’m excited.”
Sixth-round draft choices seldom cause a significant roster ripple, even in training camp. Chris Harris (2005) was a hit, a safety on the Super Bowl team the next year and now a Bears coach. Al Afalava (2009) was an emergency starting safety for one year, then gone. Running back Adrian Peterson (2002) was a special-teams force for eight seasons and Paul Edinger (2000) is still the third-most accurate kicker in franchise history. Other than that, not a lot of impact.
Maybe with the right motivation…