Darnell Washington’s stock soars at the 2023 NFL Combine

Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (TE17) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (TE17) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Georgia tight end Darnell Washington impressed both in interviews and on the field at the 2023 NFL Combine. 

Former Georgia football player Darnell Washington made the cannonball-sized splash at the 2023 NFL Combine that we thought he would. His performance gives NFL front office executives an interesting dilemma when evaluating who tight end No. 1 is in this year’s NFL Draft.

To give scouts and general managers a little help, Washington offered up his own perspective on this during media interviews at this week’s NFL Combine.

Washington told NFL.com that he was “the most unique tight end in the draft”, and truth be told, he might not be wrong.

Should Darnell Washington be the first tight end taken in the 2023 NFL Draft?

The general consensus amongst the NFL Draft community is that Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer is the best tight in this year’s NFL Draft and with good reason. Mayer put up some spectacular numbers in his Notre Dame career.

However, the mountain known as Darnell Washington displayed over the course of the NFL Combine just how diverse his skillset is. Yes, everyone focuses on his size. At 6’7 and 264 pounds, Washington cuts an imposing figure and his measurements set him apart from the competition.

Per official NFL records, Washington’s wingspan measures a whopping 34 3/8 inches with his hands measuring a colossal 11 inches.

Washington ran a very respectable 4.64-second 40-yard dash, which is all the more remarkable when you look at his size. He had a 31-inch vertical and a 10’2 broad jump. This proves Washington is an athlete.

But it was his performances in other drills that caught the eye. His physique put the other tight ends to shame when pushing the sled. In fact, he made Mayer look decidedly weak in comparison to the way that Washington pushed the sled with ease.

But if “Big 0” wanted to sign off with a play that left everyone watching with his name and image front and center, it was the one-handed catch that had everyone from Rich Eisen to the fans in the stands on their feet.

This was the play that makes it to the front of Washington’s highlight reel and is repeated on every sports show from Indianapolis to Timbuktu. A great way to sign off a successful combine which will have left NFL Scouts excited.

Darnell Washington is absolutely a first-round pick

But there is more to Darnell Washington than the razzle-dazzle one-handed catches. His physique and athleticism make him the rarest of breeds – “unique” as Washington describes himself. He is as big a presence on the offensive line as many of his linemen.

Washington blocks with such skill he easily becomes an extra lineman when on the field, and he catches like an elite wide receiver. If you recall, Atlanta selected Kyle Pitts early in the 2021 Draft — at No. 4 to be precise — and this is the type of impact that Washington can make on a team.

Honestly, chances are that Washington won’t be selected as high as Pitts was, but I argue that he should be the first tight end off the board in April. Why? Because Washington is more than just a tight end. Flexibility and optionality are expensive commodities in the NFL and for that, a team is going to pay a first-round price.

His NFL Combine appearance justified all the talk and the hype following his appearances for Georgia. Sure, at times Washington was overshadowed by Brock Bowers. But this is exactly the point — he fits into the scheme and offers something completely different which makes him an attractive proposition for NFL teams. Washington will go in the first round.

Hold me to it.

Next. How the other Dawgs fared at the Combine. dark