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What's the Plan for DE Cornelius Washington?

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The Bears' sixth-round draft pick was spent on an athletic pass-rusher from Georgia. How does he fit into the Bears' plans and what can they do with him?

David Banks

The Player:

Cornelius Washington, sixth-round draft pick of the Bears, is primarily a quarterback hunter with speed moves - set him loose and he'll go after the quarterback. Unfortunately, Georgia switched to a 3-4 and tried lining him up at 3-4 OLB and 3-4 DE, neither of which really suit his 4-3 pass-rush suit. (Wait a sec, this is starting to sound like the Bears signed Vernon Gholston all over again.)

The Roster:

DE Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, Shea McClellin, Turk McBride. (No table this weekend; resources are, um, limited.)

This is awfully similar to when the Bears drafted Shea McClellin, only something more expected when you're spending a late-round pick. He's not supplanting Peppers, Wootton or McClellin immediately, meaning for right now, his best fit is as a rotational pass-rusher.

What it does provide, however, is a body for when Peppers is ready to retire or otherwise leaves town. The closest thing to Peppers on the roster as a two-way defensive end is Wootton - McClellin and Washington both need to work on their run-game.

The Scenarios:

1) Starting Defensive End

Possible? Yes. Likely? That's a whole 'nother question with answers involving the 2013 Cubs winning the World Series. Washington's not going to supplant any of the trio ahead of him in his rookie year.

2) Rotational Defensive End

Given Washington's skill-set, this gives the team two pass-rushing defensive ends after Peppers and Wootton, and with the team's usage of last year's Boise package, they'll find ways to get the most they can out of their pass-rush in those necessary situations. Line up McClellin and Washington on the outside, move Peppers in and Melton on the 3-tech? Or set up Washington and Peppers, Melton or Paea in the middle with McClellin roving? There are some nice pass-rush combinations here.

3) Practice Squad Attempt

The Bears could try to cut Washington if they don't think he's ready to contribute immediately, which exposes him to other teams, but if they think he needs some practice squad time, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

The Future:

The Bears will need to add another defensive end whenever Peppers leaves town, and Wootton's free agency is impending as well. If Washington has a good year, he'll earn more snaps the same way McClellin did.

Resigning Wootton, provided he shows another solid season, should make sure the Bears don't have to start somebody who isn't ready to start.