Darnell Washington Draft Profile
This is the year of the outlier; whether it is players like Deuce Vaughn and Bryce Young who are two players that are shorter than we have ever seen at their position, Peter Skoronski who has some of the shortest arms we have ever seen from a tackle, or University of Georgia Tight End Darnell Washington who is one of the biggest skill position players we have ever seen enter the NFL. At 6’7 265 lbs., Washington is a mountain of a man. People always ask the question, if Lebron James picked football? Well this is the closest thing you will get to your answer. Born and raised in Las Vegas, Washington was a five-star prospect coming out of high school. He ended up winning back-to-back national championships with the Georgia Bulldogs and was part of the greatest tight end duo in college football history. He was the driving force in the run game as an inline blocker while Brock Bowers was the go-to target in the passing game as a flexed out receiver. It will be interesting to see what team takes a chance on Washington; we have not seen a player at the size in his position in a long, long time so a team will have to get creative with their usage.
It is not all that rare to see a 6’7 offensive linemen, but to have a 6’7 tight end who is all muscle is a sight to see. His sheer size and strength allow him to make plays as a run blocker. He likes to hit people and in the best way possible; he is kind of an asshole when he is on the field. He is able to down block defensive linemen and abuse linebackers and defensive backs. He is fearless and willing to use all of his size. It is fun to watch defensive backs run away from him when he is trying to throw down a block in open space. His frame is going to allow him to box defensive backs out when he is catching passes. I believe he is going to have a chance to be a very productive red zone threat if an offensive coordinator can find ways to isolate or get him to use his length on roll outs or leak outs. As a receiver, Washington has natural hands; he can be used up the seam and over the top due to his wingspan. At the combine, Washington ran a 4.64 40-yard dash and while I did not see that speed on the film, he may have gotten faster in the pre-draft workouts. Washington might be the most unique player in the draft; his size is going to give him a chance to be a productive player in the NFL.
Darnell Washington has always been the biggest person and best athlete in what ever he has had to do; and while that is exciting when it comes to his potential there is also a perverse effect. Since he is so big and strong, there can be a tendency to rely on that instead of technique and coaching. In the NFL, everybody is big and strong, and while that is not meant to belittle what Washington is capable of, it is just more of an even field. Coaches make a living by finding areas of weakness in a player’s game to expose and then building their games plan around that. For Darnell Washington, I have major concerns regarding his speed, bend, and ability to change directions. His frame and strength allowed him to get away with poor technique in college, but in the NFL teams will find away to force him to make certain plays where he can’t just rely on his physical abilities. There is a sense of recklessness to his game as a blocker, he is more of a clamper than a striker and ducks his head on contact. He likes to throw his body rather than punch with his hands, and prefers to make an impactful blow rather than strain his block. As a receiver, he is not much of a route runner, but his size allows him to get away with that. I am also concerned about his body holding up; while his massive frame can be beneficial, it is also a major target for defenders. If teams can find a way to use his lack of bend and ginormous frame against him, Washington’s biggest strength could end up being deleterious.
There is a sense of boom or bust when it comes to Darnell Washington and that is just because we have not seen a player with his body type in the NFL. His rare size, strength, and length combination could make him into one of the most dangerous weapons the NFL has ever seen, but it could also end up being unsustainable. With that being said, I do not think he is dynamic enough to be an elite receiving threat (outside of the red zone), but if proper technique gets drilled into his system, he could end up being one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL. Washington is a risk; there is no doubt about it, and I am not sure how willing teams will be to take a risk on an inline tight end. With that being said, his tangible features make him a lock to be picked in the top 40, but I would not feel comfortable with taking him until round three. I believe his upside is Marcedes Lewis with more production in the red zone. I would like to see him in a one-two tight end punch similar to college. I believe the Giants and Rams would be great options, where he can work alongside Darren Waller or Tyler Higbee. Washington is one of the most interesting evaluations in this year’s draft, and I think it will take a few years for him to truly come into his own.
Play Strength + Explosion: 10.75/12
Ball Skills: 8/10
Strain + Finish: 8.25/10
Reactive Athleticism: 5.75/8
Mentality + Relentlessness: 6.25/8
Short Area Quickness + Change Of Direction: 5/8
Play-Making Ability: 4.5/6
Final Rating: 76
Player Comparison: Marcedes Lewis
Team Fits: Rams and Giants
Draft Grade: Third Round Pick
Draft Projection: Late Day One - Early Day Two