‘I’m A Pretty Fast Learner:’ TE Darnell Washington Ready To Take On The NFL

Darnell Washington doesn’t need to say much. Just looking at him, a 6’7, 260-pound tight end is enough to let you know he can make the jump to the NFL. Still, size and strength alone are no guarantee of success at the game’s highest level. There must be a firm understanding of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ playbook. But Washington isn’t worried about that.

“I’m a pretty fast learner,” Washington told reporters via the Steelers’ YouTube channel following Friday’s practice. “Georgia was a program where we ran a pro-style offense in a way. Just different terminology. I just have to remember what we called it at Georgia isn’t what it’s like [in Pittsburgh]. But I’d say I’m a quick learner.”

Georgia not only was college football’s best program the last two years, winning back-to-back national championships, its offense was run in a similar fashion as the NFL. The Bulldogs played under center, they ran the ball, and for Washington, he was used as a true in-line player. Unlike most top college tight ends, he blocked more than he caught the ball, leaving the latter to teammate Brock Bowers, who will be one of the top players in a future draft class.

Tight end is typically a difficult transition to the NFL because most prospects are flex tight ends, de facto wide receivers who split out wide and rarely put their hand in the ground. And when they do block, they’re not a core part of the scheme; merely getting in the way is considered a win. Washington doesn’t have that problem. He’ll have a far easier learning curve than most at his position, a sixth offensive lineman in college, a role that he clearly embraces.

“I felt pretty comfortable when I came here,” he said. “So far, so good.”

It’s a good sign for a rookie though he’s yet to mix in with the veterans, and right now Washington’s group is being taught basic, Day One install type of stuff. Things will get more complicated in the coming weeks and months. But Washington’s size and comfort in his current role should accelerate his chances of playing right away and helping the Steelers’ running game in 2023.

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