The first three selections of the 2023 NFL Draft for the Pittsburgh Steelers have lacked a little in the excitement department for yours truly, if I am being completely honest, something I always strive to do.
Don't get me wrong, all three were completely logical selections at huge areas of need for the franchise. I am excited about the long term potential of the trio, but just because something is perfectly logical doesn't necessarily make it exhilarating.
Taking an uber talented offensive tackle in the first round was necessary, rejecting uninspired trade offers for the first pick of the second round made perfect sense, as was injecting a much needed shot of youthful enthusiasm to the defensive line rotation in retrospect. However, none of those maneuvers moved the excitement needle for this old Steelers fan like the Steelers third round selection. Finally an addition from my draft crush wishlist.
I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.
There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers selected massive Georgia Bulldogs TE Darnell Washington with the 93rd selection of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Darnell Washington is an extremely large and athletic mountain of a man at the tight end position. He stands 6'7" tall and weighs in at 263 lbs on his towering frame. I can already see the Mount Washington tee shirts selling like hotcakes down on the strip district, and the "You're this tall" life-size cutout at Kennywood.
Washington utilizes his extreme length and girth to it's full advantage on the gridiron. He is the most dominant run blocking tight end I have seen in years, to the point he often resembles an extra offensive tackle. Washington's top of the class wingspan gives him an insane catch radius, to go along with 11" hands, which are surprisingly soft. Check out the insane one handed leaping catch he casually made during drills at the Combine on YouTube when you get the chance. Amazing.
Washington has 4.63 speed, but as you would expect at his gigantic size, he is far more lumbering long strider than quick twitch. He is an absolute nightmare scenario for defensive backs once he gains momentum in the open field, where he can just as easily high hurdle overmatched defenders as bulldoze through them. Go too low, and Washington makes you look foolish. Stay too high, and he runs you through. Pick your poison. Good luck trying to make the right decision at a moments notice.
If my elaborate description of Washington is starting to sound eerily similar to a former Patriots tight end named Rob Gronkowski that tormented my beloved Steelers for nearly a decade, don't be alarmed, because that's exactly who Washington reminds me of. If completely healthy, Washington will provide Kenny Pickett a favorable mismatch the moment he walks on the field every game. I am beyond excited by the potential of the Pickett to Washington connection, and you should be too.
Based on the criteria mentioned earlier in this article, I give the Steelers third round selection of Darnell Washington an initial draft grade of A+.
How could I not give my highest grade to this selection? Washington is an uniquely gifted talent, universally accepted as a Top 40 prospect in this draft class. The Steelers flat out stole the young man with the 93rd selection of the 2023 NFL Draft. All he needs now is some health and good fortune. Finally one of my draft crushes has come home to Pittsburgh. Now that's exciting!
Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.
I am pleased to welcome Darnell Washington to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!
What initial draft grade would you give the Steelers third round selection of Darnell Washington?
This poll is closed
A = Excellent selection
B = Solid selection
C = Average selection
D = Below average selection
F = Terrible selection