NFL player comparisons for Steelers TE Darnell Washington

Steelers, Marcedes Lewis
Steelers, Marcedes Lewis / John Fisher/GettyImages
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Pittsburgh Steelers fans were thrilled when Darnell Washington fell into their lap with the 93rd overall pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Washington was talked about as a fringe first-round prospect in a loaded tight end class, and despite some teams failing his medical exam, he was instantly thought of as one of the best value picks of the class.

While long-term health is a concern due to some teams having Washington off their board for medical reasons, he's otherwise a prototype high-floor prospect with a respectably high ceiling as well. This is the conclusion I came to on my post-draft scouting report.

If the knee concerns don't shorten his career, Washington has elite size and the overall physical makeup that could allow him to stick around the league for a long time and play at a high level. Here are my high-end, low-end, and most likely NFL player comparisons for Darnell Washington:

High-end NFL comparison: Marcedes Lewis

Marcedes Lewis is the comp that everyone likes to use for Darnell Washington, and it's not hard to see why. These two players have physical styles that mirror each other perfectly. In addition, Lewis had a nearly identical frame as Washington coming out of UCLA way back in 2006.

Though Lewis has only earned one Pro Bowl in his career, you couldn't ask for more in terms of the longevity of his career and was he has brought to the table as a blocker for 17 years in the NFL. Earlier in his career, Lewis was used as a receiver more often -- recording five straight seasons of at least 460 yards from 2008 to 2012.

However, Lewis was always respected for his blocking strength. Like Washington in college, Lewis was a people-mover in the running game and often acted as an extra offensive tackle in passing situations.

Lewis was never quick or sudden enough to be an elite receiving threat in the NFL, but his 6'7'' frame, brute strength, and overall physical makeup helped him earn a job as a starting 'Y' tight end for a very long time with the Jaguars and eventually with the Packers. This would be all we could ask for in terms of a career path for Darnell Washington.