Georgia tight end Darnell Washington reportedly paid a visit to One Bills Drive as one of the Buffalo Bills’ top-30 pre-draft visitors. Reporter Aaron Wilson was the first to break the news that Washington and Buffalo’s brass were to have an official sit down meeting.
Georgia @GeorgiaFootball tight end Darnell Washington is visiting the #Bills— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) April 11, 2023
Washington’s name has been mentioned around these parts for the better part of at least two college seasons. He was oft-highlighted in several of our weekly college football pieces as a player to watch or star who balled out.
Since the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine took place earlier this spring, Washington has seen his stock rise following a terrific performance in Indianapolis, IN. Washington is an exceptionally large human being, standing 6’7” and weighing 264 pounds, with 34 3/8” arms and 11” hands. He’s the Empire State Building to Antonio Gates’ Chrysler Building — in other words, pretty rarefied air.
With Georgia, Washington was part of a talented tight end duo that gave opposing teams all sorts of trouble. In sharing time with Brock Bowers, Washington was often asked to stay in and block while Bowers stole the show with his athleticism. But Washington took full advantage of every football thrown his way. In three years with the Bulldogs, Washington made 27 starts in 36 total games played — notably missing four games to start the 2021 college season.
As a true freshman, Washington made seven catches for 166 yards. His sophomore season saw Washington catch 10 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown. It was Washington’s junior season in 2022 that saw him break out, catching 28 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns. Remember, this production came from an in-line Y-tight end who played second fiddle in his own position group. The ceiling appears to be very high for the big man.
As with any NFL prospect, there is room for improvement within Darnell Washington’s game. Many experts agree that he leaves his feet too often and doesn’t run the best routes or separate from defenders. He also didn’t get a lot of opportunities to contribute as a receiver until his junior season.
Per Next Gen Stats, Washington’s athleticism score was the second-highest among tight ends at the NFL combine. On the turf of Lucas Oil Stadium, Washington clocked a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, with a 1.57-second 10-yard split, 4.08-second 20-yard shuttle to go along with a 31” vertical and 10’2” broad jump.
Does Darnell Washington fit the Bills? I might as well ask you about things bears do in the woods, because Washington is the type of player any team should find reason to add. His strength and tenacity as a proficient blocker could potentially enhance the team’s blocking, especially in the run game. As a receiver, he’d bring a profile unmatched by anyone on Buffalo’s roster. Yes, many analysts believe he will need to further refine both his blocking and receiving games but, without doubt, Washington would give the Bills’ offense an incredible chess piece to mold. Unleashing Washington near the goal line and/or in play-action sets is a tantalizing prospect to consider — a true size mismatch against almost every player he’d encounter.
Whether Washington’s available at 27, or a wise prospect to draft in the first round are both debatable. The touble with Buffalo’s scheduled slot is that they’re so close to the next round some teams are likely to devour players the Bills pass up in hopes of landing a round later. I don’t know that Washington lasts until pick 59 — but I would welcome the powers that be to select him if he fell. While we can’t know Buffalo’s true interest level in Washington, he did make an official top-30 visit to Orchard Park, NY. Tight end is a position the team has spent considerable time investigating this offseason, whether or not Bills Mafia believes the need is real. If we think of Darnell Washington as an offensive tackle with true receiving ability, his star might shine a bit brighter for many on the fence.