A few years ago the Pittsburgh Steelers had a receiver who was dubbed “Combat Catch Cobi” by Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider. That receiver was Cobi Hamilton, and he was given this nickname for his ability to make tough catches in high traffic areas.
If the ball was in Hamilton’s vicinity, even with defenders draped on him, there was a good chance he was coming down with the football.
While Hamilton has moved on from the Steelers and bounced around the NFL, the team has a new “Combat Catch” player, and it is rookie wide receiver James Washington.
Although the “Combat Catch” nickname doesn’t rhyme with James like it does with the name Cobi, Washington’s statistics in college certainly show he isn’t afraid of contested catches. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he led the NCAA in passer rating when facing contested catches.
Some scoff at anything PFF related, and this is understandable on many levels, but what this shows me is Washington is anything but a “one trick pony”, as Mike Tomlin likes to say. Washington was one of the best deep threats in college football in 2017, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he can’t do other things.
Think back to when the Steelers drafted Mike Wallace out of Ole Miss. Tomlin gave him the “one trick pony” nickname because he struggled to do anything but go routes. Wallace had blazing speed, something Washington doesn’t, as his 4.54 second 40-yard dash indicated at the NFL Scouting Combine, but what he lacks in speed he makes up for in play making ability.
In other words, Washington is a more complete receiver coming out of college. Just another reason to be excited about what Washington brings to the Steelers, even in his rookie season.