Unpacking Future Packers: No. 76, Penn State WR Parker 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 wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb in free agency this offseason. This coming a year after they traded away Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders. 

If the Packers lose both Lazard and Cobb they will most certainly be on the lookout for a veteran wide receiver to team with youngsters, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Samori Toure. 

It’s also likely that Brian Gutekunst will use a Top 100 pick on a wide receiver in the 2023 NFL Draft. A player that he could target on day two of the upcoming draft is Parker Washington. The Penn State wide receiver checks in at No. 76 in the Unpacking Future Packers countdown.

A four-star recruit out of Texas, Washington caught 36 passes for 489 yards and six touchdowns during the 2020 campaign. While playing second fiddle to Jahan Dotson, Washington caught 64 passes for 820 yards and four touchdowns in 2021. This past season, Washington played in just 10 games and caught 46 passes for 611 yards and two touchdowns.

“Washington’s 2022 season was close to a microcosm of his career at Penn State: Quiet consistency,” Daniel Gallen, a Penn State reporter for Lions247 and 247Sports said. “Despite missing the final three games of the season, Washington still finished the season as Penn State’s leading receiver in yards, and he had at least four catches in seven of the 10 games he played.”

Washington’s numbers took a dip this season. A number of factors played a role in Washington not building off his 2021 campaign. The emergence of tight end Brenton Strange and the simple fact that Washington missed the final three games of the season with an injury. 

“Through a certain lens, Washington’s season could be viewed as a bit of a disappointment,” Gallen said. “With the departure of Jahan Dotson after the 2021 season, Washington was viewed as a potential breakout star as the new No. 1 wide receiver in the Nittany Lions offense. Washington’s 2021 output of 64 catches for 820 yards and four touchdowns is one of the most productive seasons in program history, and that was even with Dotson posting the majority of the production. There were myriad factors at play, including the consistent emergence of the tight end room and a resurgent running game. Penn State didn’t need to pass as much.”

Washington’s two biggest games during the past two seasons both came against Ohio State. In 2021, Washington caught nine passes for 102 yards. This past season he reeled in a career-high 11 receptions for 179 yards and one touchdown. 

“While Washington was consistent and reliable, his only real headliner game was against Ohio State in October when he caught 11 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown,” Gallen said. “I think many people, myself included, expected that to be the norm, as opposed to his season averages of 4.6 catches and 61.1 yards per game. Still, Washington’s reliability can’t be understated.”

Washington has the contact balance of a running back. He’s able to bounce off tacklers and create yards after the catch. He’s able to weave in and out of traffic, leaving defenders grasping at air. 

“Washington can be a game-breaker with the ball in his hands,” Gallen said. “He’s built more like a running back at 5-foot-10, 212 pounds, and when he gets into space, he can both make people and use his lower body to break tackles. His long touchdown catch against Ohio State in October was a great example of this.”

At 5-10, Washington plays bigger than his frame. He does a good job of attacking the ball at its highest point and making acrobatic catches. He has outstanding body control and adjusts to the ball in flight. He has sticky hands (eight career drops). He caught at least one pass in every single game he played in during his time at Penn State, a testament to his reliability. 

“Despite his smaller stature, Washington has the ability to make some difficult catches, and his hands are a big part of that,” Gallen said. “Washington’s 35-yard touchdown catch against Minnesota was an acrobatic feat, and his outing against Ohio State featured a number of impressive grabs. Dotson made his name at Penn State with difficult catches, and Washington wasn’t quite far behind. His one-handed catch against Arkansas in the Outback Bowl after the 2021 season stands out, too. He was reliable, and quarterback Sean Clifford trusted him.”

As a route runner, Washington does a good job of mixing up his speeds. During his time at Penn State, he lined up primarily in the slot and has outstanding short-area quickness. 

“Washington was a solid route runner, especially out of the slot,” Gallen said. “Penn State used him in motion a decent amount and even lined him up in the backfield at times.”

K.J. Hamler (2020) and Dotson (2022) have both been selected in the Top 50. Washington may not go that high, but the Penn State wide receiver has strong hands, is a good route runner, and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. 

“Washington’s ability to mesh together his unique build (5-foot-10, 212 pounds), his physical skill set, and his ball skills,” Gallen said. “He plays bigger than 5-foot-10, in my view, and offers durability — he avoided nagging injuries, despite suffering a season-ender in November — and reliability. Showing up and being available is the first step.”

The Penn State wide receiver offers special teams value as a return man. He finished his career at Happy Valley with 19 punt returns, including 18 this past season and five kick returns.

Fit with the Packers

The Packers need to continue to add young talent to the wide receiver room. Watson is the centerpiece, with Doubs and Toure being solid role players. 

Washington has strong hands and is capable of making highlight-reel-worthy catches. He can create after the catch. The Penn State wide receiver brings special teams. 

“If I was an NFL GM looking for a reliable slot receiver, I would draft Washington,” Gallen said. “He’s shown good physical tools, especially when it comes to making plays after the catch and making plays on the ball. I don’t believe you’re drafting a No. 1 with Washington, but you’re getting a reliable player who can make plays when needed.”

The Packers need a dynamic slot wide receiver. They swung and missed on Amari Rodgers. Gutekunst could take another crack at adding a slot wide receiver on day two of the upcoming draft. The Penn State wide receiver could be the perfect complement to Watson and Doubs. 


Complete list of Packers Wire's 'Unpacking Future Packers' draft preview series for 2023

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire