Over the past two years, the Georgia Bulldogs have absolutely dominated college football. They’ve gone an incredible 29-1 over that time span, and have won two national titles. And, they’ve been chock-full of physical freaks. Players like Jalen Carter, Nakobe Dean, George Pickens, Brock Bowers, and Lewis Cine all stood out as human cyborgs. But, the biggest outlier of all the Bulldogs was tight end Darnell Washington.
Darnell Washington is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds. Typically, someone with that frame will try to put on weight and play as an offensive tackle. But, not Darnell Washington. He moves like a ballerina. He ran a ridiculous 4.64 40 in draft preparation this year. That time at that size simply doesn’t make sense. Couple that with 21 bench press reps of 225 lbs with arms as long as his, and that’s basically an unprecedented body type.
The former five-star recruit battled injuries at Georgia, as well as a loaded tight end room that also featured likely 2024 top-ten pick Brock Bowers, in his three years in Athens. But, Darnell Washington showed flashes of brilliance and an ability to become a sixth offensive lineman in the run game.
The @steelers are getting an absolute STUD TE in Darnell Washington 🥶🔥 pic.twitter.com/ZLOIbuaOUy
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 29, 2023
So, NFL fans were flummoxed when the tight end, who some thought would go at the end of the first round in a tight end draft class that is as deep as any in recent memory, kept slipping in the draft. Eventually, the Pittsburgh Steelers took him with the 93rd overall pick to team him with another stud young tight end, Pat Friermuth.
With the No. 93 overall pick in the 2023 @NFLDraft, the @steelers select Darnell Washington!
📺: 2023 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC
📱: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/D3EqkrKdIw pic.twitter.com/BHfsyFTbvz
— NFL (@NFL) April 29, 2023
Still, the question remains as to why Darnell Washington slipped so far. A player with his traits and a good attitude simply doesn’t fall as far as he did. Turns out, he may have a serious knee issue.
New #Steelers TE Darnell Washington would have gone much higher than late-third round but "medical zonked him," as one scout said. Knee is a concern, and might not be only one, depending on the team. But as that same scout added, 'It's laughable. He will play a long time."
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) April 29, 2023
After he was selected, Darnell Washington spoke out about the medical reports during his media availability.
New Steelers TE Darnell Washington downplayed the reports of medical concerns: "I had no injuries with my knees, never. Knock on wood. I never tore anything in the knees, anything like that. I only had a knee surgery on the right knee, but that was just cartilage flared up."
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) April 29, 2023
Only time will tell just how bad that knee is. But, if he stays healthy, the Pittsburgh Steelers just got the steal of the draft.