How Steelers 2023 draft picks fit into depth chart

Broderick Jones Missouri v Georgia
Broderick Jones Missouri v Georgia / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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Darnell Washington

I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Darnell Washington is the most exciting rookie in the Steelers’ 2023 draft class. He was arguably the biggest steal of the class, possibly even of the draft, as many experts predicted Washington could be a first-round pick. But the Steelers got him after trading down in the third round, and now they have a true “Y” tight end to pair with Pat Freiermuth. 

Washington has plenty of experience as an in-line “Y” tight end. Given that Georgia also had Brock Bowers, a possible top-10 selection in the 2024 NFL Draft, he was typically given the more basic tasks in the Bulldogs' offense. Conversely, Bowers got moved around a lot to exploit the mismatches he created. That’s not to say Washington doesn’t create mismatches himself; how many other tight ends are 6’7”, 260+ pounds, and run a sub-4.65 40-yard dash?

Nevertheless, expect Washington to be used similarly for the Steelers, with Pat Freiermuth filling a similar role to Brock Bowers. Freiermuth is a solid blocker but is much better at blocking in space than being the in-line tight end who sets the edge. With Washington filling the “Y” role, Freiermuth can become the “H” or “F” tight end that aligns off the line of scrimmage, gets sent in motion, and even aligns in the slot. Washington’s addition adds a whole new dimension to the Steelers’ offense that can raise the floor for all the rest of Kenny Pickett’s weapons. 

Verdict: Rotational Tight End, Y in 2+ TEs Sets