Steelers sixth-best rookie: Darnell Washington
This was ultimately a tie between Darnell Washington and who ended up being the fifth-best rookie from camp. While second to last place seems like an insult, it is more of a testament to the overall production of this rookie class. Washington didn’t have a horrible showing, I just can’t rank him higher than any of the other draft picks.
Washington came back from some early lackluster practices and quickly reminded the Steelers of just what kind of a freak he can be. He did his part in the run game, dominating blocking drills and looking the part of a ferocious blocking tight end. While he had the occasional struggle against some top pass rushers, that is more due to the talent of the group as opposed to Washington struggling.
The issue was in the receiving game. While Washington flashed some red zone upside, his route running was mediocre and he never showcased himself as a dynamic threat in the passing game. While he popped in practice some as a receiver, it never translated into a preseason game, as Washington failed to make much of an impact.
The run blocking was as advertised and honestly, so was the receiving game. Washington failed to show much growth outside of his poor start to a stronger finish. We knew he would be a viable blocker, the question was where would his receiving ability be. Nothing much was solved, unfortunately, so Washington finds himself lowly rated through the preseason.