Darnell Washington NFL Draft 2023: Scouting Report for Pittsburgh Steelers' TE

BR NFL Scouting DepartmentContributor IApril 29, 2023

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 03:  Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (0) warms up prior to the start of the SEC Championship football game between the LSU Tigers and the Georgia Bulldogs on December 3rd, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

HEIGHT: 6'7"


HAND: 11"

ARM: 34 3/8"


40-YARD DASH: 4.64




BROAD: 10'2"


— Rare build for the position.

— Elite play strength accompanied by a physical mentality.

— Great blocker. Tough, physical presence as an in-line blocker. Smooth target-tracking skills and movement when blocking in space.

— Good movement skills for his size. Plays with good burst and surprisingly smooth change of direction.

— Good contact balance and ability to earn extra yards with physicality.

— Has the tools to develop into a high-level weapon in the red zone.


— Can be heavy-footed as a route-runner when it comes to shallow timing-based routes.

— Underwhelmed as a contested-catch option despite his size.

— Hand placement could be better as a blocker to take him from great to elite.


— 15 GM, 28 REC, 454 YDS (16.2 AVG), 2 TD


— DOB: Aug. 17, 2001

5-star recruit in 2020 class

— 2022 second-team All-SEC

— Started 27 games over three seasons


Darnell Washington has a unique build of traits and athletic profile that could help him become a star with a bit of refinement.

It all starts with his size and movement skills. Washington is an overwhelming figure at 6'7", 270 pounds, and he has the strength to back up that frame. As a blocker, Washington crushes his opponents when he catches them clean. His naturally high point of attack causes him issues at times, but even then, Washington is such a big, strong force that he makes it work. That same strength shows up in the passing game at the line of scrimmage and at the top of his routes. It's difficult to ever knock Washington off his path.

As an athlete, Washington won't sprint away from defenders like, say, Kyle Pitts, but he's an awesome mover for his frame. He plays with good speed and surprisingly nimble feet when it comes to maneuvering on free-flowing routes such as seam routes, intermediate crossers, sail routes and shallow crossers. The same is true when the ball is in his hands. Washington has nifty burst and does well to minimize contact when he can, a trait that gives him wonderful balance when paired with his strength.

That being said, Washington is still a ball of clay. His footwork as a route-runner can be sluggish on timing routes, namely sharp in- and out-breaking routes in the underneath area. He struggles to settle and burst in those instances. Additionally, Washington isn't as comfortable going up for the ball as his frame suggests. There are flashes but equally as many confusing reps in which Washington fails to box out a defender and win the right to the ball.

Washington is the home run swing at tight end in this draft class. Players with his size and athletic ability do not come around often. It may take a year or two before Washington isn't so rough around the edges, but he has all the tools to be a Pro Bowl tight end. Washington would fit best in a run-heavy system that can prioritize his blocking skills and ability to roam in space on play action.

GRADE: 7.8 (Potential Impact Player)



PRO COMPARISON: Athletic Marcedes Lewis

Written by B/R NFL Scout Derrik Klassen