When the Arizona Cardinals drafted inside linebacker Daryl Washington in the second-round (No. 47) of the 2010 NFL Draft, I knew they had drafted a steal. A player with blazing speed including a 4.57 40-yard dash, Washington had all the intangibles to blossom at the next level. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds Washington realized he would have to bulk up if he wanted any chance at starting. A total package as Washington’s cover skills were well developed, Washington instantly provided the aging linebackers unit with some much needed youth.
In Washington’s rookie season, he registered 78 tackles, one interception, and one sack. Not great stats but nonetheless solid for a rookie starter. His play allowed the Cardinals to quickly assert him as the leader of the defense the following season, as he had a breakout campaign in 2011 with 107 tackles and 5.0 sacks. His football IQ combined with great instincts, allowed Washington to play a read and react style of play his sophomore season. However it was not until 2012, that Washington would be regarded by his peers as one of the best.
On the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2013, Washington was ranked No. 93. An honor that is well respected by the players themselves, as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman spoke on Washington’s play as he continues to develop into a Pro Bowl talent.
He’s on a great defense. You know, he’s a great part of a great defense. And I think Arizona’s defense gets overlooked. Just because your not winning as much, doesn’t mean you’re not doing your part.
Aside from being regarded as one of the best, Washington was also selected to his first career Pro Bowl in 2012, as he racked up career-highs in both tackles and sacks with 134 and 9.0 respectively. The unquestioned leader of the defense, Washington will need to adapt to defensive coordinator Todd Bowles new 3-4 scheme. And I believe he will greatly benefit as he has the skill-set to run sideline-to-sideline.