At Texas Tech, it can be difficult to make an impact if you are not a part of the Air-Raid offense they seem to follow religiously. The focus of their offense is centered around their ability to throw deep, score fast, and move at a very high tempo. In this style, it can be hard for running backs to gain production or have a significant effect on the outcome of a game as the focus is on throwing the ball rather than handing it off. However, DeAndre Washington may just be an exception to this rule. Despite the offense he is a part of, Washington has shown consistent production illustrated by his second-consecutive 1,000 yard season and a knack for getting into the endzone.
Washington is not a traditional running back, which leaves many questioning how his abilities will translate to the professional level. Some of his qualities will leave teams disinterested in drafting him, while others may see them as qualities befitting a perfect project with the foundational tools to build upon. One thing is for certain, Washington will do everything he can to prepare for the leap and make a case for all NFL scouts and coaches.
Weight: 185 lbs.
- Tremendous Receiver
One way Washington has made himself stand out in this air-raid offense is his ability to be a receiver out of the backfield. He runs routes very effectively and demonstrates soft hands to make even difficult catches. In 2015, he secured 41 receptions for 385 yards and 2 touchdowns. In his career, he’s amassed 124 catches for 1,091 yards and 4 touchdowns. The production combined with his ability presents a running back who can be very effective as a receiver and presents a unique threat for any offense.
- All-Around Back
One of the biggest things that stands out about Washington is his ability to do just about anything. He has tremendous vision, which allows him to see the field and make the proper cuts to get into open field. He has shifty feet and is able to make tacklers miss purely on his agility. He is a tough and willing blocker, not afraid to stick his nose in the middle of a pile. He can run with just about any scheme and presents a wide-variety of skills that most teams should look at as moldable. Washington doesn’t do any one thing great, but he does a lot of things very well. The video below shows a game against Oklahoma State in 2014. The segment shows a run displaying his “twitchy” ability as he shifts himself around to get the most of his carries.
- Size and Stature
The biggest thing for scouts and coaches to get over will be his size. At 5’8”, 185 pounds, Washington finds himself at the small end of the spectrum. He’s not overly fast and doesn’t possess the physical running style that would make him a power back. As tough as he is, he’s never played at the NFL level and won’t be used to linebackers and safeties of that caliber hitting him hard. There is potential for injury and it becomes a cause for concern. In order for him to be successful, he will have to accept a limited role early in his career. He will have to find the right fit that will allow him to continue to add weight and mature as an athlete. If the right role can be found, Washington may just be able to find himself on an NFL roster come 2016.
Due to his size and limited frame, he will be ignored by many teams and seen as undraftable. However, in the right role (especially early on) he may find a niche as a change-of-pace back with the tools needed to grow into an NFL-caliber running back. He will have to find and develop his strengths, while adding as much weight as possible. If he puts in the time and effort to do this, accepting a possible practice squad position, he could eventually become an efficient back in the league.
Round Projection: Rounds 6-7
Player Comparison: If he gains weight, he could be a lot like Branden Oliver who is finding a way to shake the “small” label.