Whether a prospect gets drafted in the first round or the seventh round of the NFL Draft, the experience comes with a whirlwind of emotions.
That was the case for Georgia TE Darnell Washington, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers at #93 overall of the 2023 NFL Draft. Washington was projected to go much higher as a borderline first/second round pick, but knee swelling at the Combine spooked teams when evaluating his medical, causing him to take a tumble to the end of the third round.
Washington felt disrespected that he fell so far in the draft relative to his projection due to the caliber of player that he is. However, when asked by fellow Steelers teammate CB Patrick Peterson on the All Things Covered podcast what that initial phone call from Pittsburgh was like, Washington responded that the moment was surreal.
“The phone call for me, I mean, it is just life-changing,” Washington said on All Things Covered. “It’s still dreams come true if it’s, even if its sixth round, first round, whatever round. It’s still life changing at the end of the day, like dreams come true.”
Washington had to overcome a lot of emotions during the draft. He saw seven tight ends go ahead of him (all of which he called out by name on the podcast) and was irritated that he fell, seeing himself as a better prospect than several TEs that went ahead of him.
Still, Washington’s childhood dreams of playing in the National Football League came true that Friday night. All that hard work, blood, sweat, and tears culminated in him landing in Pittsburgh, a team that felt very fortunate to be able to draft him where it did.
Washington is a unicorn in today’s NFL, having the size and strength to be a dominant blocker in the run game while also having the athleticism and hands to be a productive pass catcher in the receiving game. He knows that he can be a mismatch in the league, the same way he was during his time at Georgia. The 6-7, 270-pounder intends to build on his tantalizing skill set under the watchful eye of TE Coach Alfredo Roberts.
He may not have been drafted as early as he wanted, but Washington is an NFL football player, wearing the Black and Gold. He is grateful that Pittsburgh was the team to stop his slide, and the Steelers benefit by landing an incredible value in a player who is only scratching the surface of what he can do.