One of the most exciting moves the Pittsburgh Steelers made through the NFL draft was the addition of tight end Darnell Washington in the third round. Washington’s best ability is his blocking ability, so much show that the 6’7, 270-pound tight end is known as “The Sixth Offensive Lineman.” But he’s more than just a blocking tight end, as Omar Khan believes Washington will also be able to contribute as a receiver. Washington himself does as well, as he told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com.
“When I put it all together, I can be a mismatch,” said Washington. “I can be anywhere on the field, whether that’s running routes or if that’s blocking. I need to put it all together. Once I do that, I will be a complete tight end. I am not complete yet. It takes time. Being with Coach Alfredo (Roberts) and working on our game will make it happen.”
Washington’s size and blocking ability already make him a mismatch. But he recognizes he’s not a complete tight end yet. He never got the chance to be the top receiving threat at Georgia due to playing behind 2022 Mackey Award winner Brock Bowers, As a result, it’s the least developed part of his game. It’s key that he recognizes that and is excited to get working with Roberts.
Washington will likely be the primary backup to Pat Freiermuth, although the two of them will be on the field a lot together if Pittsburgh runs as many looks out of 12 personnel as expected. Washington has already made a good impression on Freiermuth — they first met on his visit to Penn State — by helping out at Freiermuth’s first youth football camp last Saturday.
The Steelers’ tight end room could end up being really talented in 2023 and going forward. Freiermuth has shown he’s a weapon in the passing game. While Washington isn’t at the same level yet, he going to be a problem to bring down with his size and he’s such a big target that he becomes a threat against any opposing linebacker or defensive back. Roberts has done a great job with the Steelers and I’m really excited to see how it goes with him developing Washington.
And hopefully turning him into that mismatch.