Daryl Washington, ILB, TCU
Weight: 230 pounds
40 time: 4.66
The leading tackler on the top defense in the country in 2009, Daryl Washington enters the NFL as one of the most intriguing prospects at the linebacker position in this year’s draft.
Despite starting just two games entering his senior year, Washington had a phenomenal season that landed him exposure and attention at the national level; in 2009 he totaled 109 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks one pass breakup and three interceptions. Washington finished his time at TCU with 220 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, six pass breakups, and the three interceptions.
Daryl has a terrific combination of size, speed, and athleticism; he has long arms with a tall frame that has room to add more weight. He’s an extremely instinctive player who has great vision into the backfield and he diagnoses, reads, and reacts to plays very well. Washington has fantastic closing speed with sideline-to-sideline range; he’s an active player with a great motor and he seems to always be around the football.
Daryl is also a reliable tackler in the open field; he’s a downhill runner who chases and pursues the ball carrier with the ability to bend, get low and wrap up the runner in open space. He also has experience dropping back into zone coverage; he has the size and speed needed to effectively cover the tight end down the field as well as the running back out of the backfield. The biggest knock on Washington is his lack of size and bulk; he has a thin frame for a linebacker, however this isn’t a huge concern to me.
There’s a chance that Daryl could make a position change at the next level to better fit his skill set, however if he stays in the middle or moves to the strong side, he has plenty of room on his frame to get bigger and add strength. His strength coach in the NFL will help him grow into being a bigger player if that is needed. There are times when he will be taken out of the play by bigger and stronger offensive linemen in the run game, which is something that he will need to work on at the next level. The one concern that I do have is that Washington only started for one full season in college; this can be taken one of two ways, either he lacks experience to make an immediate impact in the league because he needs added experience, or his upside is very high coming of a great first year as a starter. I feel that the latter is more likely. I project that Washington will be drafted in the second-to-third round.
Daryl is a player that I think has the chance to be a pretty good football player in the NFL. I love his combination of pure talent and athleticism as well as the great instincts that he brings. He has the potential to develop into a top starting linebacker for a team, especially if he lands in the right fit. Daryl offers some versatility as he has the speed and quickness to be a weak-side linebacker in the 4-3, he has experience as a middle linebacker, which is where he started in 2009, so he could potentially play here in the 4-3 or 3-4, or he could even play strong-side linebacker in the 4-3 if he adds the necessary weight and strength that position requires. It all depends on what team he lands with, what scheme he plays in, and what his coaches want to do with him. He also was a standout special teams player while with the Horned Frogs (four career blocked punts) and could certainly help out here at the next level if needed. Washington was one of the fastest risers at the linebacker position both during the 2009 season as well as in the offseason leading up to the draft. I really feel that his upside is extremely high and his best football could certainly be in front of him.
Notes: Daryl was named first-team All-MWC as a senior. As a senior in high school, Washington tallied 168 tackles and four sacks. As a prep he also lettered three times in basketball and once in track.
We noted Washington’s “sleeper” status in our Draft Preview article and we’re still very high on his prospects. He’s a speedy OLB that works well in space and has all the intangibles.
He projects out as a WLB in a 4-3 defense, a spot that traditionally nets solid fantasy stats. He won’t impact your fantasy team in 2010, but has the upside dynasty league owners look for.