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Cornelius Washington is one of the best edge-setters available in Round 7.
The talent behind 2012 first-round pick Chandler Jones and veteran Rob Ninkovich is not written in ink. The Patriots do filter in multiple backup pass-rushers, but the group must be more consistent in doing what their job entails: rushing the passer.
Yes, 2010 second-rounder Jermaine Cunningham and undrafted rookie Justin Francis did combine for 5.5 sacks in 2012. But the Patriots still placed only 15th in sacks, which subsequently put pressure on the squad's 29th-ranked pass defense.
It's too soon to know what the future holds for Trevor Scott, who's about to enter free agency. And the same can be said for last year's third-round pick Jake Bequette, who played just 29 defensive snaps this year, per FootballOutsiders.com.
With all these forces in play, it would be no shock to see the Patriots nab another defensive end in April's draft. If the front office waits until the later rounds to do so, then Georgia's Cornelius Washington would fit the bill.
Washington may have been overshadowed by fellow Bulldogs John Jenkins, Bacarri Rambo, Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, but he's an NFL prospect in his own right.
The defensive end/outside linebacker compiled an decent junior year in 2011, totaling 17 tackles and five sacks. Yet Washington's senior year wasn't even as productive as productive as his last.
In 2012, Washington was credited with only half a sack. However, he still managed 22 tackles, a fumble recovery, 15 quarterback hits, a blocked kick and three tackles for loss.
Regardless of the mediocre numbers, it's apparent on tape that No. 83 is a force to be reckoned with on passing downs. He's got good speed, he's a mean tackler and he's agile enough to drop back in coverage as a 3-4 outside linebacker.
Washington also boasts an NFL body. According to Russ Lande of NationalFootballPost.com, Washington measured out to be 6'4", 264 pounds at the Senior Bowl and displayed an 81-inch wingspan to boot.
During his scouting venture down in Mobile, Ala., Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com saw Washington as a potential fit with New England:
For the Patriots he has the size they like on the perimeter of the defense. Washington is big enough and strong enough to set the edge vs. the run, as well as rush the passer.
He's not going to tally up the tackles, especially not in run support, but Washington can get offensive tackles out of their anchor and chase down quarterbacks. If he winds up a system tuned to his strengths, Washington could end up being a very dangerous third-down pass-rusher at the next level.
Alternate Pick: Kenneth Tate, SS/OLB, Maryland