The Arizona Cardinals’ defense last season was very good despite lacking an elite pass rushing threat from their outside linebacker position.
While Sam Acho and O’Brien Schofield are still early in their development, neither has shown a consistent ability to get to the quarterback, which is something that is very important for the Cardinals defense to take that next step.
There’s a definite possibility that the Cardinals address the pass rush position in round one or two in the draft, if players like Barkevious Mingo, Dion Jordan or Ezekiel Ansah make their way down to the seventh pick.
There are also a couple interesting players in round two in Corey Lemonier and Sam Montgomery that could be available if the Cardinals decide to address the offensive line or even the quarterback position in round one (I know I know, no one wants a quarterback).
The problem becomes the Cardinals’ needs and player value may not match up to the point where they address pass rusher early, so here are three I like that could be available on day three of the NFL draft.
Note: With the importance of getting to the quarterback all of these players could get picked earlier, but they all three are consistently graded as day three selections.
Cornelius Washington, Georgia 6-4 268 lbs.
What jumps off of the tape when you are watching Washington is how uncomfortable he looked in his role in the Georgia defense in 2012.
While he struggled to show the ability to anchor and shed blocks as a five technique defensive end, if you go back and watch the 2011 games, when Washington lined up outside on passing downs and was able to pin his ears back and go after the quarterback.
He was consistently around the quarterback, and even though he only notched five sacks he accounted for 29 quarterback pressures (as noted by the Georgia athletic department).
Washington would have to come initially as a pass rusher because he didn’t spend a ton of time dropping into coverage at Georgia, but his athleticism, smooth movements and lateral quickness could turn him into an every-down outside linebacker force.
Trevardo Williams, Conneticut 6-1 241 lbs.
The most entertaining argument I see of why the Cardinals shouldn’t draft Matt Barkley is because the last USC quarterback they drafted failed.
In that respect the Cardinals should never, and I mean NEVER scout another Conneticut prospect because of how awful the Cody Brown selection was in 2009, because was that not one of the worst drafts in Cardinals history?
Back to Williams, he is an intriguing prospect if he isn’t expected to come in and do more than rush the passer in year one.
He is similar to Bruce Irvin last year in build and skill set, but without the buzz Irvin had.
What he can do, though, is get after the quarterback. Williams shows a bevy of quickness and athleticism to consistently win on the edge. He is able to bend around the blocker and shows an impressive counter-move to take the inside gap of the offensive tackle at times.
Where Williams is going to struggle is if he is asked to play as an every-down type linebacker early.
He’s transitioning from playing as an undersized defensive end in the Conneticut system and will need time to learn how to play the outside linebacker position in the NFL.
That being said, if he is used similarly to Irvin, I wouldn’t be shocked if he put up as good — if not better — numbers than the Seahawks’ rookie pass rusher.
David Bass, Missouri Western State 6-4 262 lbs.
The darling of the Shrine Game, Bass left many within the Internet draft community a little disappointed when he ran in the 4.8s for his forty times at the NFL Combine.
All that means is teams are going to overlook him because he didn’t run as fast as he plays.
While Bass may have some work to do to refine his game as an outside linebacker, he is a relentless worker who understands how to set up moves and get to the quarterback.
Bass is already the best run stopper out of the three outside linebackers I highlighted today, and he shows a consistent ability to get to the quarterback.
He was ultra-productive over his four seasons at Division II Missouri Western, and translated that well to his first taste of competition at the Shrine Game. Here’s what my friend Jeff Risdon of DetroitLionsDraft.com had to say:
“I wasn’t specifically watching him but Missouri Western DE David Bass continues to jump out. His quickness off the snap and ability to get off blocks are far above and beyond anyone else on the East.”
While his times may not be as sexy as others making the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker in the draft, Bass is the one that has put up consistently dominant production over four seasons. Even though it may have been against Division II competition, he’s a guy that I believe will be productive at the NFL level.