Were medicals overblown for TE Darnell Washington prior to the NFL Draft?

Steelers, Darnell Washington
Steelers, Darnell Washington / Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

I don't think anyone expected Darnell Washington to slide as far as he did in the 2023 NFL Draft. The 6'7'', 270-pound tight end out of Georgia had an exceptionally rare skill set and is a people-mover in the running game. Despite beliefs that he would be taken early in the second round, Washington eventually fell to pick 93 overall, where the Pittsburgh Steelers could not pass up the value.

We knew that there had to be something going on beneath the surface that would have caused a player like Washington to slide this far, and it was quickly confirmed that teams were scared of his medicals. However, some think that Washington's health concerns are getting blown way out of proportion.

According to ESPN Insider Jeremey Fowler, one NFL scout called Washington's medicals 'laughable' -- insisting that his issues are minor. Like many (including myself), the scout reportedly had Washington as a late-first-round talent. As he brushed the medicals aside, the scout voiced that Washington will 'end up playing at least eight years' in the National Football League.

Steelers get the steal of the draft if Washington's medicals are minor

According to the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus board, the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting the steal of the draft in Darnell Washington -- assuming the medicals are only minor. The board had Washington as the 36th overall player this year and Omar Khan poached him at pick 93.

Other boards would concur. Marcus Mosher's consensus board -- comprised of the rankings of top experts like Mel Kiper Jr., Todd McShay, Daniel Jeremiah, Dane Brugler, Danny Kelly, and Pro Football Focus -- collectively had Washington ranked as the 32nd overall player. My personal draft board had Washington as the 19th overall player this year.

This seemed like a player who wasn't guaranteed to fall to the Steelers at the top pick of the second round. If he did, it felt like this would be their only chance to land him. Instead, Washington made arguably the most unexpected slide in the 2023 NFL Draft.

With his exceptionally rare combination of size and athletic traits, Washington will be able to do some things in the NFL that other tight ends can only dream of. He will impose his will as a run blocker while being able to tower above linebackers and safeties over the middle of the field in the passing game.

With Pat Freiermuth ahead of him on the Steelers depth chart, it's important to temper expectations in what Washington will bring immediately in the passing game, but the 21-year-old has limitless potential waiting to be tapped into.

Next. Early 53-man roster predictions for Steelers after the NFL Draft. dark

Of course, we are taking the words of this anonymous NFL scout (and several others) as factual, and we are taking Darnell Washington at his own word. If Washington's medicals are indeed minor, Pittsburgh Steelers fans will be in for a treat.