The Pittsburgh Steelers have a track record of finding good offensive playmakers in the middle to late rounds of the NFL draft. That trend will likely continue with2023 third-round pick Darnell Washington, a mammoth athletic tight end who could thrive in the Steelers’ offense.
Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, the Georgia product was projected to go as high as the second round, but the fact that he lasted until late in the third round will motivate the big tight end and have all the teams who passed him up shaking their heads.
With his rare size and power, Washington will be a threat in the red zone but the mismatches he will create all over the field makes his ceiling much higher according to Steelers teammate George Pickens who witnessed Washington’s talent and ability firsthand during their days at Georgia.
Steelers have a big time force in Darnell Washington
Following the team’s practice on Friday Pickens raved about Washington’s potential as possibly one of the best tight ends in the NFL when all is said and done.
"“Maximum Darnell Washington is probably the greatest tight end in the NFL,” Pickens said, via Steelers.com. “Just off of size, hands, and the stuff that he can do. Learning plays, and all the mental stuff that’ll just come with Darnell time. But as far as physicality and his ability.”"
At 6-foot-7, 264 pounds, Washington brings that physicality to the Steelers offense. Again, it’s that size and raw athleticism that will make him an instant fan favorite throughout Steelers Nation. As far as growing into one of the greatest? Development in other phrases of the game will be a big part of if that comes into fruition.
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With some of his weaknesses being footwork with blocking and limited speed down the seam, Washington will likely start the season as the third tight end behind Pat Freiermuth and Zach Gentry. But the rookie tight end is an athletic freak who can do everything. That could propel him to being a big part of the offense as the season goes on, at least in the red zone where he should thrive in his rookie season.
So far in training camp, Washington has Pickens raving and the Steelers coaching staff excited about what he can do in the offense. For a team built around the running game, a powerful tight end like Washington who can create mismatches in the passing game seems like a perfect marriage for the player and the team to be successful.
Now, whether he ends up being the greatest will depend on his work ethic and commitment and also who quickly he takes advantage of his opportunities.