Unpacking Future Packers: No. 72, Georgia TE Darnell Washington

The Unpacking Future Packers Countdown is a countdown of 100 prospects that could be selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 2023 NFL draft.

The Green Bay Packers could be losing veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis to free agency or retirement this offseason. 

The former first-round pick has been a steady, reliable presence in the locker room and on the field during his five years in Green Bay. Lewis has endured himself to the Green Bay faithful with his willingness to do the dirty work and his leadership in the locker room will be hard to replace. 

With the veteran tight end and Robert Tonyan potentially on their way out of Green Bay, the Packers will likely look to add a tight end or two in the upcoming draft. 

A player that Brian Gutekunst could target early in the 2023 NFL Draft is Darnell Washington. The Georgia tight end checks in at No. 72 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown. 

A five-star recruit out of Nevada, Washington finished this past season with 28 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns.

Not exactly eye-popping numbers, as Washington took a backseat to Brock Bowers and instead developed into one of the best blocking tight ends in the country during his time at Georgia.

Darnell was extremely reliable throughout Georgia’s 2022 national championship season,” Matt DeBary, a reporter for said. “On an offense loaded with weapons, Washing rarely left the field. He was a dependable run blocker for a Bulldog offense that had no problem running the football all season long. He was a big target in the passing game who made the most of his opportunities. Georgia had plenty of other options in the passing game, but Washington was always a reliable option when the ball came his way.”

Washington is a monster. At 6-7, 275 pounds, Washington is an imposing figure on the gridiron. With that size, Washington can overwhelm defenders at the point of attack. He’s a people mover with his power. He’s able to seal and wall off outside running lanes. Having him on the field is like having a sixth offensive lineman on the field. 

“He has been an impactful blocker since his freshman season,” DeBary said. “Due to his size and length, he can swallow up smaller edge defenders and bury opposing linebackers into the ground. He was an every-down tight end and easy to run behind in short-yardage and goal-line situations.”

Washington was a high-school wide receiver and has natural pass-catching abilities. He has strong, reliable hands. According to Pro Football Focus, Washington had just two drops this past season.

With his size, Washington has the makings of a walking mismatch inside the 20s. He has no issue making catches in traffic and is easily able to outmuscle defensive backs at the catch point.

The Georgia tight end accelerates smoothly off the line of scrimmage to quickly enter his route. Washington has the speed and length to be a downfield threat in the passing game. The high school wide receiver averaged 17.2 yards per reception during his time as a Bulldog.  After the catch, Washington is a load to bring down for defensive backs. According to PFF, Washington had 201 yards after the catch this past season.

“As a pass-catcher, he’s a big red-zone weapon due to his size and ability to snatch the ball away from smaller defenders,” DeBary said. “He’s also tough to bring down after the catch and does a great job of falling down for a couple of extra yards on a consistent basis. He’s tough to bring down by just one defender and can pick up yards in a hurry due to his long strides and physical running style.”

There is a lot to like about Washington’s game. His size, his effort as a blocker, and his upside in the passing game all make him an attractive target. DeBary said that teams will love his willingness to do whatever it takes to help the team win.

“His greatest strength is his versatility,” DeBary said. “He was used more as a run-blocker, but he could also split out wide and block bigger defensive backs on the perimeter with ease. He’s hard to miss down the field in the passing game, but his biggest strength was being used as a versatile blocker in the run game, making an impact no matter where he was lined up.”

Fit with the Packers

The Packers could be losing two veteran tight ends this offseason and Josiah Deguara is currently only the notable tight end under contract. 

Washington has the tools to step in from day one and provide an immediate impact as a blocker and a weapon in the passing game. 

It’s hard to imagine the Packers selecting Washington at 15. If he’s on the board when the Packers are on the clock in the second round Gutekunst could add the behemoth tight end. 

“There just aren’t many players like him,” DeBary said. “In the right system, it’s easy to see why offensive coordinators could use him in both the run and passing game. His versatility, toughness, and overall size should allow him to make a big impact early on if drafted to a place that can be creative with how they use him.”

Washington is an in-line tight end that could step in immediately and help a team’s rushing attack with his ability as a blocker. That alone could make him an attractive option for the Packers as they look to reload at the tight end position. 


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Story originally appeared on Packers Wire