From now until the 2018 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
#28 James Washington /Oklahoma State WR – 5’11” 213 lbs.
– Gets separation deep.
– Attacks and tracks the ball in the air
– Can catch the ball in stride
– Works both inside and outside
– Uses his quickness well against press coverage
– Plays even faster with the pigskin in his hands
– Strong, powerful hands
– Nice wiggle, at times looking like a running back
– Issues with body catching
– Limited route tree with sloppy routes
– Rarely faced physical coverage
– Some issues shielding defenders from the ball
– Statistics could be inflated due to offensive scheme
– Rated the top senior wide receiver by Mel Kiper in 2017
– 2018 Senior Bowl participant
– In high school was an outstanding basketball and tennis player, who also won the triple jump and 100m dash state titles
– Led his high school football team to 2 state championships as a junior and senior (had 46 touchdowns combined those 2 years)
– Was a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award and was first-team All-Conference
– Finished his college career with 226 receptions for 4,472 receiving yards with 39 touchdowns, ran the ball 9 times for 70 yards and a rushing touchdown, and did some lite kickoff work with 5 returns for 83 yards over 3 years
Facing a third and short, Washington is lined up on the far right off the line of scrimmage. At the snap, he explodes out of his stance racing into his corner and gets his back arm into the defender trying to create separation. #28 catches the pass in stride with the defensive back draped all over him, but rolls out of harm’s way keeping his balance. The wideout sidesteps another defender bearing down with a slight jump cut, accelerates only to be brought down a few yards later with a nice open field tackle. Washington attacked the ball in tight coverage and broke a few tackles creating more yards than were there.
Coming of the line of scrimmage at the snap, #28 starts off high moves outside to try to set up move inside. The Texas corner is not fooled, wraps his arm around the receiver’s waist to slow him down, disrupting the route. Washington should have lowered his hips or used the arm closest to the defender to free himself of the extra arm. This man-handling coverage was the reason the senior receiver finished this game with four receptions for 32 yards.
On the top of your screen, washington is lined up split out with a 5 yard cushion given him off the line of scrimmage. At the snap, the receiver exploded down the field getting separation against his coverage. #28 tracks the ball in the air, slowing down to make the catch. This allows the defender to recover and make the tackle right after the catch is made. This play shows off the wide out’s ability to find the pigskin in flight, adjust his path/tempo, and make the reception with a defensive back on top of him. If that pass would have been two yards longer, the Sooner corner would have not been within five yards of Washington and the receiver might have had a long touchdown.
Lined up at the bottom of your screen, Washington and his Cowboys are facing a third and 10, but the Horned Frog defender is giving our receiver a nice 5 yard cushion. He runs into his corner, disappears from the screen, only to reappear making a reception in the middle of the field with several defenders around him. This shows good communication and a willingness to get hit while making a catch for a first down.
Washington reminds me quite a bit of the Lions Golden Tate. He is very athletic deep threat, who attacks the ball in the air, and runs like a back with the ball in his hands. His routes aren’t so crisp, rarely faced physical coverage, and won’t be getting at least 7-10 targets a game to inflate his statistics. The problem with the young playmaker is where will he go in the NFL Draft. Dane Brugler has Washington ranked as his 9th best receiver, Joe Marino has #28 as his 5th best receiver, and Kyle Crabbs has the young Cowboy wideout as his 4th best receiver. If teams feel he is on the higher range, Washington will get drafted late round one or early two. If Brugler’s evaluation is closer than he would get selected later in the second or in the third. I don’t feel that the wideout would be a good strategic fit if the Steelers if they had to invest in him before the third round.
Projection: Late Day One to Day Two
Games Watched: 2018 Senior Bowl, vs. Virginia Tech, @ Pittsburgh, @ Texas, vs. Oklahoma, vs. TCU