Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington sports an intimidating frame and comes with three years of experience in an elite program. Following his junior season, he declared for the 2023 NFL Draft as one of the more intriguing prospects, regardless of position.
Weight: 264 pounds
40 time: 4.64 seconds
Washington’s was a top-25 prep recruit and started seven games as a true freshman for the 2020 Bulldogs. He missed the opening four games of the next season but started all but one game in 2022 for the back-to-back FBS champs. Washington recorded personal bests for receptions, yards and touchdowns as a junior, earning second-team All-SEC recognition while splitting time with move tight end Brock Bowers.
Table: Darnell Washington stats (2020-22)
*includes postseason/bowl games (stats from Sports Reference)
- Rare size and adequate speed — his 4.64-second 40 time ranks in the 80th percentile for all tight ends at the combine, regardless of physical stature
- Quite athletic for his size — multiple examples on tape of him hurdling defenders, contorting his body for the tough catch, and outrunning linebackers
- Strong blocker both in-line and down the field — tremendous power at the point of attack to set the edge or rag-doll smaller defenders
- Difficult to bring down and knock off-balance with an attempted body tackle
- Excellent mismatch for 50/50 balls, especially in the red zone
- Huge catch radius (83 3/4 inches) and naturally soft hands — which happen to be massive at 11 inches
- Impressive focus and concentration when looking in passes in tight quarters
- Unrealized potential in the passing game
- Three-down player
- While fairly fast for his build, cornerbacks will run him down in the open field
- Lacks technique in his footwork both as a blocker and while running patterns — nearly all of the criticisms are fixable and nuanced
- Wasn’t particularly productive in college, though he was often overshadowed by Bowers the last two years
- System-based personnel grouping dependency could limit his availability
Fantasy football outlook
Washington profiles as a Round 2 selection but could climb into the opening stanza if a team is enamored with his potential. In the right system, he could be a three-down tight end and a starter early in his career, primarily due to his blocking skills. He’ll fit either a zone- or power-blocking scheme, though Washington would be served well in a TE-heavy design that tends to utilize the position as an extension of the offensive line.
Based on that train of thought, Detroit is an interesting landing spot with Dan Campbell having been a similar player whose team has a need. Denver, Cincinnati, Green Bay and the Los Angeles Chargers are strong contenders for his services.
While Washington could have a lengthy and respectable career, there’s a reasonable chance we’ll never enjoy his offerings as a weekly fantasy starter. Washington will require a steady dose of red-zone targets to off-set what projects to be a lack of considerable volume from week to week. Marcedes Lewis is an easy comp, and there’s some Benjamin Watson in his game, even though Washington has four inches on the retired pro. Both had quality careers in their own right but lacked a consistent fantasy punch.