3 loy-key options for Steelers that are flying under-the-radar in the NFL Draft

2023 CFP National Championship - TCU v Georgia
2023 CFP National Championship - TCU v Georgia / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages
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1. Darnell Washington, TE, Georgia

While the Steelers have a reliable starter at the tight end position in Pat Freiermuth, their depth behind him is suspect. They brought back Zach Gentry and still have Connor Heyward. While Gentry has developed into a solid backup/rotational player over the last few seasons, opponents do not fear him, especially as a receiver. With Derek Watt gone, Heyward will most likely move to more of a fullback role, as his size prevents him from being a reliable in-line option.

Even though Freiermuth is a good receiver and solid blocker, he is more effective as a “move” tight end, blocking from off the line of scrimmage and in space. In short, Pittsburgh could still use a better option at 'Y' tight end. 

If the Steelers really want to root their identity in running the football down opponents’ throats, Darnell Washington would be a welcome addition to the tight end room. At nearly 6’7” and 264 pounds, he has similar size to Gentry but is stronger, more athletic, and better understands how to use his size.

Washington took on a bigger role in the Georgia Bulldogs’ offense this year, albeit primarily as a blocker, given the presence of Brock Bowers. He still has room to grow and improve, both as a receiver and a blocker. But Washington’s unique physical profile makes him a nightmare for defenses to plan against. 

Many predict the Steelers will use one of their first selections in the 2023 NFL Draft on an offensive tackle to replace Dan Moore Jr. or Chukwuma Okorafor. But what if, instead of replacing them, the Steelers gave them some extra help for blocking on the edge in the form of Darnell Washington? This would allow the offense to use Freiermuth more efficiently as a blocker while also providing Kenny Pickett with an elite red-zone threat.

Next. Five Possible Steals Steelers Could Make in 2023 NFL Draft. dark

Naturally, using a first-round pick on a tight end would be controversial. But first-round picks should be used on players with elite/unique traits, which fits with Darnell Washington.