Mina Kimes Believes TE Darnell Washington ‘Adds Just A New Dimension’ To The Steelers Offense

Fans, media analysts, and NFL scouts alike have been raving about the selection of Georgia TE Darnell Washington in the third round by the Pittsburgh Steelers since the pick was made last Friday night. Many believe it was one of the best value picks in the draft, landing a player with Washington’s unique size and skill set near the back of the third round after the Steelers traded back 13 spots to recoup a fourth-round pick and still managed to land him.

On her podcast, The Mina Kimes Show, which aired live on YouTube, Mina Kimes and former NFL CB Domonique Foxworth broke down their favorite draft classes and specifically what picks they loved. Mentioning the Steelers as one of the teams with the top draft classes, Kimes dove into why she loved the Washington selection and what he may bring to the Steelers’ offense as it’s currently constructed.

“If he is healthy, the combination of him and Pat Freiermuth… it adds just a new dimension to this offense,” Kimes said Wednesday. “The Steelers offense… because the wide receiver corps is excellent already presents a lot of problems for secondaries. And (now) you got this blocking tight end in Darnell Washington, who I believe has pass-catching upside and brings such a unique combination of size and athleticism that’s missing from this group. It just makes it much more difficult to stop.”

Washington made his name as a devastating blocker at the University of Georgia, earning the nickname “The Sixth Offensive Lineman” which he has proudly embraced. He took a backseat in the passing game to future first-round pick Brock Bowers, posting just 28 receptions for 454 yards (16.2 YPR) and two TDs in his final season. Still, the tape shows more than the initial stats indicate. Washington flashed as a pass catcher in a low-volume passing game at Georgia, displaying soft hands as well as the ability to work down the field and generate YAC despite his massive frame.

The Steelers have an impressive WR corps as Kimes mentioned above with Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, and Allen Robinson II rounding out their top three pass catchers and Calvin Austin III being the wildcard as a potential big-play threat waiting to happen. They also have TE Pat Freiermuth, who is quite the accomplished receiver himself, along with Zach Gentry, who serves as a big blocking TE as well, and Connor Heyward, who profiles as a Swiss Army Knife and can contribute in a multitude of ways.

Washington adds a new element to Pittsburgh’s passing attack, having the size of a Gentry along with similar, if not better, athletic traits than Freiermuth all in one package. This isn’t to say that Washington will usurp Freiermuth’s place stop the depth chart, but rather that he gives the passing game a big-bodied pass catcher who is a mismatch nightmare for anyone that has to cover him 1-on-1. Having to guard the likes of Washington while dealing with the size and contested-catch ability of Freiermuth, Pickens, and Robinson along with the route running savvy of Johnson makes this passing game potentially lethal in many respects.

This passing game struggled to get anything going last season. Heading into 2023 with the additions of Robinson, Austin III, and Washington along with the progression of Kenny Pickett from Year 1 to Year 2, the passing attack should take a notable leap forward, and the combination of Washington and Freiermuth could easily ascend to one of the top TE tandems in the league.

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