The latest subject of our 2023 NFL Draft prospect profiles is tight end Darnell Washington. Washington is coming into the NFL as a two-time National Champion, taking home the title in 2021 and 2022 as a member of the Georgia Bulldogs. But just what type of prospect are we looking at in Washington? Let’s find out, shall we?
During a stint at Desert Pines High School in Nevada, Washington showed flashes of athleticism. He showed promise in track and the shot put, and of course, he played basketball. It scarcely goes without saying that hoops played a part in their youth for the modern tight-end prospect.
Washington was a 4-star prospect coming out of high school and received offers from 35 schools. These included Alabama, Florida, Miami, and Tennessee. But Washington ultimately chose the Bulldogs.
Washington’s three seasons with Georgia saw him play a part in two National Championship campaigns. He appeared in 25 games over three seasons, in which time he caught 45 of 71 targets (63.3 percent catch rate).
Washington racked up 774 yards and scored three touchdowns, with a best of 28-454-2 in 2022. Washington caught five passes for 60 yards against Mississippi State in 2022. He also had four grabs for 78 yards against Vanderbilt last season.
Reasons to be Cheerful
Quite simply, Washington is an athletic marvel. He’s either a very large man or a very small building. Yet despite his incredible size, he has exceptional workout metrics. Washington blazed a 4.64 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, which given his height and weight gives him a Speed Score of 117.8 (96th percentile). Washington is the second most athletic tight-end prospect in the 2023 class and is inside the top ten according to our database.
Reasons to be Wary
Washington’s athletic profile is worth getting excited over. But it does mask a fairly unimpressive production profile. Washington has no official Breakout Age and failed to command a target share higher than 8.4 percent during his college career. Washington’s 16.2 yards per reception in 2022 makes for good reading. But from a raw production standpoint, that’s pretty much the highlight.
It should be noted that Washington was sharing a tight end room with Brock Bowers. In his two seasons playing alongside Washington, Bowers has racked up 119 receptions for 1,824 yards while also scoring 20 touchdowns. So the presence of an elite performer at the same position has to be acknowledged. But Washington is clearly more athlete than producer at this stage of his journey.
Player Comparison and Draft Outlook
Darnell Washington is the type of prospect that NFL coaches will also be enticed by. He is something of a unicorn given his elite size-adjusted speed and athleticism. It’s whether or not a team thinks his potential is worth spending a really early draft pick on that is the question. Washington’s currently sitting at 35.5 according to our Mock Draft index. But we’re not as high on Washington as some others seem to be. He’s the No.95 player on our Big Board, sitting behind another seven players at his position.
Washington’s closest comparable player is current New York Jets tight end C.J. Uzomah. Uzomah has had a pretty decent NFL career but has never really looked like commanding a massive workload as a receiver. Indeed, he’s played almost as many blocking snaps in his career as he has run pass routes. So historically there is a worry as to whether or not Washington will become a player that fantasy managers really need to keep an eye on. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com is one of many analysts who speculate as to whether Washington’s NFL future might include a move to offensive tackle. Unless you play in a league with really wild scoring settings, offensive tackles don’t tend to score many fantasy points.