A self-described defensive playmaking prospect strongly urged the Dallas Cowboys to secure his services later this month in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Texas Christian safety Ar’Darius Washington is that playmaker — and subtle he’s not.
“If you want a ballhawk, come and get me,” Washington said in a recent interview with 105.3 The Fan, via CowboysSI.com.
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A three-year contributor for the Horned Frogs, Washington totaled 62 solo tackles, six pass breakups, and five interceptions across 23 appearances from 2016-18. All five of his picks came in 2019 when he earned Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and FWAA Freshman All-American honors.
Washington’s production dipped last season as he recorded 25 tackles and four PBUs over nine games before foregoing his final two seasons of eligibility to enter the draft pool.
Although undersized at 5-foot-8, 176 pounds, Washington has drawn loose NFL comparisons to former Cardinals and current Chiefs star Tyrann Mathieu (5’9, 190) due to his instincts, fluidity, and physicality.
“In spite of his unorthodox makeup, Washington can play,” Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline wrote in his scouting profile. “He’s smooth and fluid in man coverage, and he’s quick and instinctive in zone coverage. He has enough range and ball skills to line up at free safety, but he can also move around and file into the slot if needed.
“Washington molds his game after Tyrann Mathieu, and it shows. He’s smart, physical, explosive, and versatile. Even if he doesn’t have the desired size or the desired speed for his size, he has the traits to fill a playmaking role in the right defense.”
Washington, 21, does not boast the pedigree of his TCU teammate, fellow safety Trevon Moehrig, a projected first-round choice. Pauline classified him as a Day Three talent who may convert to cornerback at the next level.
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Potential Cowboys Fit
Dallas certainly is not hurting for playmakers in the secondary — particularly among the last line of defense, where Donovan Wilson and free-agent addition Damontae Kazee are the penciled-in starters.
If drafted, Washington slides in as the No. 3 safety while also moonlighting at corner under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. His rookie development likely wouldn’t be dissimilar to that of 2020 fourth-rounder Reggie Robinson, a natural CB-turned-S-returned CB.
“Very undersized college safety with low-end size and high-end play traits,” NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting profile. “Washington falls well below the desired measurables for a safety, but he plays with outstanding instincts and aggression in everything he does. He has good foot quickness and really reads play development and quarterback intentions with clear eyes. He’s quicker than fast and there is some concern about how he will match up down the field against NFL size. He’s a physical striker when he plays near the line, but can be pushed around by big bodies at times. Several teams will scratch him from their boards based on his size, but a move to nickel cornerback with man or zone talent could help him find NFL snaps regardless of stature.”
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL