Late on Day 2 of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers grabbed a moldable ball of clay that will be a matchup nightmare for defenses for a long time in the NFL.
A giant, moldable ball of clay, that is.
Pittsburgh grabbed Georgia tight end Darnell Washington at No. 93 overall Friday night, closing out the second day of the draft in style.
While Washington projects as a high-end, in-line tight end due to his dominant blocking abilities, Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada told reporters Friday night that he wouldn’t put Washington in a box. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound tight end “can be anything” offensively, Canada said, due to his versatile skill set.
“He can be anything. Obviously his size comes into play. We’ve got a lot of good weapons right now,” Canada stated to reporters following the selection of Washington, according to video via the Steelers YouTube page. “I do believe because of the weapons they had on their team, his pass catching total might not be as impressive as some when you look at just stats, which I know that’s what a lot of people do, but he does make plays on the ball.
“He has some run after the catch. He has a couple real impressive highlights, you know, running through guys, running over guys and so yeah, he could be a weapon at different parts of the field for sure.”
Washington’s calling card, outside of his freakish size, is his work as a blocker. He’s like a sixth offensive lineman when on the field but calling him a sixth offensive linemen undersells his abilities as a receiver.
Washington, he had one of the top workouts in recent memory for his position at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine. Already a talented prospect with great tape, Washington had one of the best days in Combine history, a 9.90 RAS score that’s 11th best among TEs since 1987.
What makes Washington unique is his beefy frame, blocking ability, and explosiveness. He isn’t a raw prospect, a small schooler, or a tweener. He’s an in-line tight end with burst and a headache to try and tackle. Washington’s also a dominant blocker with the demeanor to match his size.
Canada is spot-on in saying Washington can be anything with his size, demeanor in the run game and overall athleticism. Adding an athlete with that size to the roster at 93 overall is quite the home run for the Steelers. Prior to his fall down the draft, Washington was considered a top-40 player.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah had him at No. 33 overall on his big board, and The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had him at No. 30. He can certainly be anything for the Steelers offensively as he gives them a ton of versatility. What he is right now is an insane value pick for the Black and Gold.
It will be very exciting to see what Pittsburgh can do in two-tight end sets moving forward.