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2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Draft Grades: Darnell Washington Adds Physicality



Steelers Draft Darnell Washington

PITTSBURGH — The Steelers draft brass continue to add physicality to their team and Darnell Washington out of Georgia will add an infusion of that physicality and grittiness to the tight end room. So, just how does this pick grade out?

First, we have to understand why Washington is even on the board at this point. It’s obvious this is a fantastic value pick. Some projections had Washington going as early as late in the first round while others had him as an early second-round pick. But concerns about his knees and other leg injuries piled up and caused him to drop. Jeremy Fowler even reported that teams ‘zonked‘ him for the medicals. That adds some level of risk to this pick, but I am no doctor, so I can not tell you how much there is to that idea.

So, onto the player, and what’s not to love about this pick? This is absurd value and frankly highway robbery by Omar Khan. A 6-foot-7 tight end, Washington is a wholly unique player. His blocking is elite, to the point where he has the skills of an offensive line. Looking at Washington move defensive ends is a joy and comical, to be quite honest with you. Pittsburgh lacked that guy and this can open up so many options for Pat Freiermuth.

More than that, the Steelers draft room knew just how good of a fit this was for themselves. Washington is a massive billboard over the middle of the field and up the seam. His athleticism is explosive enough to the point where you can see him hurdling players on film. That is a rare trait for anyone this size.

Is he a perfect player? Absolutely not. I still have questions about his versatility outside of the in-line role, but let’s be real here, what he does is elite and Washington allows the Steelers a bevy of possibilities in the run and passing game. This is a tight end tailor-made to play for the Matt Canada offense. Pittsburgh can now be far more tight-end multiple and Washington can be a big boost in the red zone, which is another emerging theme from this offseason.

There is obviously associated risk with this all, but all in all, the Steelers should be enthused by this entire draft, and Washington falling is some of the best value in the entire class, not just the Steelers picks.

Grade: A