Darnell Washington is a ‘unique’ NFL prospect

INDIANANPOLIS — Darnell Washington was not the best tight end on his college football team, but his combination of size, speed and athletic ability makes him one of the more intriguing prospects at the NFL scouting combine.

“I feel like I’m the most unique tight end in this draft,” Washington said Friday. “I wouldn’t say the best. I’m very humble.”

Washington played the past three seasons at Georgia and helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back national titles while playing the immense shadow of tight end Brock Bowers.

Washington caught 45 passes for 774 yards and three touchdowns over three seasons. At 6-foot-7 and 261 pounds, Washington developed into a respectable blocker.

“I feel like I’m only scratching the surface,” Washington said. “I feel like I’m a good blocker, but I can turn into a great blocker. I’m a good athlete. I feel like I can turn into a great athlete.”

Washington plans to run in the 4.6s in the 40-yard dash. NFL teams are impressed as he has had several formal interviews.

“They see the size,” Washington said. “I’m bigger than most of the tight ends, and they’ll see the 40 (yard-dash time).”

When Washington arrived on campus from Las Vegas, he was a willing blocker. Over time he developed into a more efficient blocker.

“I take pride in it,” Washington said. “I embraced it at the University of Georgia. I knew I wasn’t getting 50, 40 balls because we’ve got Brock Bowers and Ladd McConkey. There is only one football. You can’t give it to everybody. I just embraced the role of blocking. It’s a mindset thing.”

Washington played at Desert Springs High and was a five-star recruit. He committed to Georgia in January 2020.

He started played football at as a boy and was a running back. He was moved to wide receiver and then tight end in high school as he put on more weight.

“Growing up I wasn’t as big weight-wise, so I was looking like Calvin Johnson,” Washington said. “I was like 230 and playing wide receiver.”

Now, Baltimore’s Mark Andrews is one of his favorite tight ends, along with Mercedes Lewis.

“Growing up I was a little bit of a Ravens fan,” Washington said. “I just see in his game, him making contested catches with one hand. Him being a bigger guy, with a bigger body. He’s not as big as me, but I see him as an all-around player.”

Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer, Utah’s Dalton Kincaid, Oregon State’s Luke Musgrave and South Dakota State’s Tucker Kraft also are considered top tight ends in the draft.

“Darnell Washington is massive from Georgia,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “He is like playing with a sixth offensive linemen in the run game, and he is still developing and learning in the pass game.”

Jeremiah agrees with Washington that he has a higher ceiling in the NFL.

“I think there’s more there,” Jeremiah said. “Obviously, they had the best tight end in the country there with Bowers, who is just an absolute freak show. So, he doesn’t get as many balls as he would on other offenses, but he is really intriguing.”

Musgrave is the nephew of former Falcons quarterback coach Bill Musgrave.

“Musgrave from Oregon State is going to probably run in the low 4.5s at 255 pounds,” Jeremiah said. “He could go in the first round. Then you start going through the list. (Sam) LaPorta from Iowa, Tucker Kraft from South Dakota State. You got Davis Allen from Clemson (and Calhoun High), (he’s) intriguing.”

Purdue’s Payne Durham, who played at Peachtree Ridge High, also is considered a solid NFL prospect.

Some have projected that Washington will be taken by the Falcons in the second round of the draft.

“We’re in a critical part of the process right now,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said. “We set the board, and that’s the fun part because we’re setting it just based on the film and what you got from the school here. So that’s really cool. Now we get through the rest of the process and get the coaches involved, and then we make the adjustments.”

The Bow Tie Chronicles

090322 Atlanta, Ga.: Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington (0) runs after a catch against Oregon Ducks defensive back Bryan Addison (13) during their game at Mercedes Benz Stadium, Saturday, September 3, 2022, in Atlanta. Mitchell had four catches for 65 yards and one touchdown. Georgia won 49-3. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington (0) celebrates a 14-yard touchdown against the LSU Tigers during the second half of the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2022. (Bob Andres / Bob Andres for the Atlanta Constitution)

Credit: Bob Andres for the Atlanta Constitution

icon to expand image

Credit: Bob Andres for the Atlanta Constitution