The Pittsburgh Steelers officially locked up one of their top draft picks from the 2023 NFL Draft on Friday night. The Steelers inked former Georgia tight end Darnell Washington to a four-year contract worth $5.35 million, according to Aaron Wilson of KPRC2. The signing bonus includes $893,752. Pittsburgh selected him in the third round of the draft with the No. 93 overall selection.
Washington, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound tight end, played three seasons at Georgia and saw his role grow each season. He appeared in four games his freshman year before playing in eight contests as Georgia won the national title in 2021.
He burst into a more prominent role in 2022 while running alongside Brock Bowers. Washington hauled in 28 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns in 2022, wowing NFL scouts in the process.
Along with his growing receiving prowess, Washington’s combination of size, power, speed and agility make him an extremely intriguing NFL prospect. Washington is raw in the finer points of the tight end position but has demonstrated his ability to grow his skillset. There’s no question he has room to grow into a legitimate offensive weapon in the NFL one day.
At the NFL Combine, Washington gave a confident self-assessment of what separated him from other tight ends in his draft class.
“I got the ‘want-to’ of blocking, I feel like I got the ‘want-to’ and I got the willpower,” Washington said. That attitude, in part, aided to his eventual selection in this year’s draft.
What NFL Draft Analysts are saying about Darnell Washington
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein provided the following analysis of Washington, while also comparing him to Darren Fells, who last played for the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2021.
“In-line tight end with rare size and power at the point of attack to help soften defensive edges up front,” Zierlein wrote about Washington. “Despite sloppy overall technique, Washington can be effective at moving defenders when he’s centered on his block. He must improve his footwork and hand usage, as NFL defenders will slip away from his clutches more easily if he’s unsound.
“He plods into his routes but catches with above-average focus and can be a handful to bring down. Washington could become a dominant run blocker with better technique, which makes me wonder if a team might give him a look at offensive tackle at some point in his career.”
Zierlein’s analysis also includes Washington’s strengths and weaknesses. His strengths include his massive physique, ability to mismatch linebackers and helps aid red zone efforts, while his weaknesses include his footwork, being prone to wide blocks, and his inability to sink and break off routes underneath.
On3 and Outsider’s Barkley Truax also contributed to this article.