Darnell Washington, Tight End, Georgia
Darnell Washington was one of my favorite targets for the Cleveland Browns when they had the 42nd pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The team's first pick is now the 74th pick in the third round, likely well out of Washington territory.
Washington could wind up coming off the board in the first round, which would likely completely eliminate the Browns as contenders for the 6-foot-7, 265-pound bully. But if he does slip into the second, and falls just a little bit toward when the Browns were scheduled to pick initially, it would be smart to make a move.
You won't be drafting Washington because of his production in college. He didn't put up eye-popping numbers for Georgia, with next year's top tight end Brock Bowers as the main receiving threat. When you watch the tape, you can see why Washington can be so valuable at the next level.
He's so big that it almost seems like he's moving in slow-motion at times, but his long strides still get him down the field efficiently. He isn't the most nuanced route runner, but he uses his size to shield off defenders and has very impressive hands. He is nearly impossible to bring down with the ball in his hands, resembling Derrick Henry when rumbling down the field.
Where Washington will really make NFL coaches' eyes light up is with his blocking ability. He truly looks like another tackle on the end of the line and can manhandle his opposition. Even when watching his "highlights" you see numerous plays where Washington completely dominates a defender and allows his ball carrier to get by.
The Browns already signed a tight end this offseason in Jordan Akins, who has some history with Deshaun Watson and is mostly a receiving threat. Harrison Bryant has been serviceable since being drafted in 2020, but his future with the team is in question.
The idea of pairing Washington with starting tight end David Njoku is enamoring to me. They are both truly spectacular physical specimens, and I believe that Washington can develop his game just as Njoku has in Cleveland.