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Washington Possesses Power, Potential


In Donnell Washington, the Green Bay Packers know they don't have a finished product.

But in the third round of the NFL Draft, there was too much raw athletic material in the 6-foot-5, 323-pound defensive tackle for the Packers to pass up.

Trading up 14 spots, the Packers selected Washington with the 72nd overall pick of the draft, just two picks after selecting cornerback Joey Thomas of Montana State.

"We felt like he was the best big man left on the board," vice president of football operations Mark Hatley said. "He also was the highest-rated player left on the board for us, so it was a pretty easy decision.

"There weren't a whole lot of questions. (In Thomas and Washington) we felt like we got two second-round guys in the third round, so we felt very fortunate."

To move up to acquire Washington, the Packers gave up a fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars while swapping third-round choices.

"We moved up because we thought Donnell was special at his position," Hatley said. "He's young. He's got a big upside. We're excited about an opportunity to get him."

Washington is now one of two developmental defensive tackles on the Packers' squad, joining James Lee, who after being selected in the fifth round of the 2003 draft spent his first season on injured reserve.

As with Lee, the Packers admit that Washington needs some mentoring. Like the team's first-round pick of this year's draft, Ahmad Carroll, Washington passed on his senior year to enter the draft a year early.

But Hatley said he sees even more potential in Washington than the team saw last year in Lee, as evidenced by the third-round selection.

The Packers plan to use Washington at either of the tackle spots to start with and may eventually try to work him into a role as a backup pass rusher at power end, the position currently held down by Aaron Kampman.

Washington's arms are 36 inches long and Hatley said he's been timed in the 40-yard dash as low as 4.88.

"He's powerful," Hatley said. "Hopefully he'll come in here and we'll get him to play at the level that we want him to play and he'll just get better, because all his football is ahead of him."

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