Darnell Washington goes to the Saints in 2023 NFL mock draft

Tight end isn’t really a position of need for the New Orleans Saints, but it’s hard to not see the appeal in this 2023 draft prospect. Yahoo! Sports’ Charles McDonald has them selecting Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington in a recent mock draft — the national champions’ biggest playmaker. Literally: Washington looks every inch of his listed 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds, towering over many of his opponents and teammates out on the field.

Here’s what McDonald said of the match at No. 41 overall:

“New Orleans found a nice receiving option at tight end in Juwan Johnson, but that shouldn’t stop them from adding someone as talented as Darnell Washington in the draft. Washington can block like an offensive lineman and has untapped receiving potential for the next level.”

Washington broke out during his 2022 junior season for Georgia, racking up 28 receptions for 454 receiving yards (ranking fourth and fifth on the team in each category). He moves incredibly well for someone of his stature with highlight plays going viral on social media throughout the season; most notably when he broke one Oregon Ducks defender’s tackle and then hurdled another one of them in the season kickoff back in September. He broke down the play during an appearance on the SEC Network while towering over former Saints tight end Benjamin Watson (who also hails from the Bulldogs’ program):

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We’re waiting on word as to whether Washington will declare for the draft as an underclassman, but he’s an intriguing NFL prospect despite only having caught 3 touchdown passes in 27 games at the college level. Washington is known as a powerful run blocker (it’s what helped him start over LSU transfer Arik Gilbert this season), and he could be an upgrade over Adam Trautman as the Saints’ No. 2 tight end despite the veteran’s greater experience. The position is known for its steep learning curve, sure, but you never know. Trautman will be a free agent after the 2024 season so it might be a good move to draft his replacement.

And it would be fascinating to see Washington coexist with Juwan Johnson. The former Oregon wide receiver has successfully converted to tight end for New Orleans and is now hoping to cash in as a restricted free agent, having broken out in 2022 with his own impressive stat line (having caught 42 passes for 508 yards and a team-leading 7 touchdown receptions).

But the Saints have bigger fish to fry as things stand right now. Their focus this offseason needs to center on finding a franchise quarterback, a quality running back to pair with Alvin Kamara, upgraded options along the defensive, and improved depth across the board. Still, let’s not rule out Washington just yet.

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire