published Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Georgia's Cornelius Washington shines at combine

Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington blocks a field goal in the 2012 SEC championship game against Alabama.
Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington blocks a field goal in the 2012 SEC championship game against Alabama.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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.

The NFL combine ended Tuesday with workouts by the defensive backs. Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner solidified his status as a surefire top-10 selection by running the 40 in 4.37 seconds, while troubled former LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu had mixed results with a 4.50 time but only four reps on the bench.

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.

While Washington is certain to move up the charts, Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore could be in for a sizable slide. Projected by Kiper as the No. 2 overall pick behind Aggies offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the 6-4, 250-pound Moore ran a 4.95 and had just 12 reps on the bench, the fewest among the 37 defensive linemen invited.

NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock described Moore's bench numbers as "totally unacceptable." Moore had 21 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks last season.

"It's just like football," Moore told the NFL Network. "Something always happens. There is some adversity. You've got to learn from it, forget about it and move on."

While Georgia's Jones and Alabama tailback Eddie Lacy chose not to work out in Indianapolis after productive seasons, Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o was under the microscope as soon as he arrived. Struggling against Alabama in the BCS championship game and the bizarre revelation of a girlfriend who didn't exist had Te'o's stock skidding, and he didn't reverse the slide Monday with a 4.82 in the 40.

There are analysts now projecting Te'o in the second round, though ESPN's Todd McShay believes he will go late in the first and will be the second inside linebacker taken behind Ogletree. Te'o is scheduled to perform again at Notre Dame's pro day on March 26.

"I expect Manti Te'o to put up some better numbers because he can focus more between now and then," McShay said. "There has been so much focus on him, and it seems to be a little over the top."

Texas A&M receiver Ryan Swope (4.34), Arkansas tailback Knile Davis (4.37), Patterson (4.42), Tennessee receiver Justin Hunter (4.44) and LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo (4.58) were among the other SEC players who capitalized in the 40-yard dash. Hunter and former Vols and Tennessee Tech receiver Da'Rick Rogers each went 39.5 inches on the vertical jump, while Davis benched 225 pounds 31 times.

Another SEC disappointment was LSU defensive end Sam Montgomery, who ran a 4.81 and admitted in the interview portion that his dedication fluctuated with the Tigers.

"You know, some weeks when we didn't have to play the harder teams, there were some times when effort was not needed," Montgomery said. "When we had the big boys coming in -- the Bamas or the South Carolinas -- I grabbed close to those guys and went all out."

When Ogletree had to answer questions about failed drug tests at Georgia and a DUI earlier this month, he apologized and said, "I'm a good person at heart."

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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