Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Darnell Washington wasn’t expected to be available when the team selected him with the 93rd overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. While he might not have been happy about the fall, it’s worked out well for player and team. In an excerpt from the book “How Bout Them Dawgs” posted to the Athens Press, his college tight ends coach, Todd Hartley, said Pittsburgh is the perfect spot for Washington.
“He was disappointed that he fell in the recent draft, but that has made him more motivated than ever,” Hartley said “The good news is that he is really happy to be in Pittsburgh. He really likes the Steelers staff. I believe Pittsburgh is the perfect place for him.”
Pittsburgh is indeed a great fit for Washington. He is learning under Alfredo Roberts, who has shown to be an awesome fit as the team’s tight ends coach. Also, he can settle in without a ton of pressure on him immediately as he’ll be behind third-year tight end Pat Freiermuth on the depth chart. Washington’s strength is as a run blocker and he’ll be able to primarily focus on that while Freiermuth retains a larger pass-catching role. Still, Washington should see the field immediately as a blocking tight end, especially in 12 personnel, which the team is expected to run a lot more frequently.
Washington has already given indications of being a good teammate, showing up at Pat Freiermuth’s camp last weekend, and he’s someone who should fit in with Pittsburgh on and off the field. As a blocker, he’s going to help Pittsburgh play bully ball and set the tone on a team that’s going to run the ball. As a receiving threat, Washington is a huge target at 6’7. He’ll be a threat after the catch and he’s not the easiest guy to bring down.
As Washington fell in the draft due to medicals, and while his knees could be a long-term concern, his talent should make him a good player in the league for a long time.
Even Washington’s production doesn’t flash immediately, his impact will still be made through his blocking, and he’s only going to get better. I’m really excited to see how his career plays out.