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Darnell Washington's NFL Draft Stock Rising

Heading into the 2022 season, tight end Darnell Washington is coming upon a "prove-it" year.

Darnell Washington is one of the most talked about players to watch this season for Georgia. Yet, at times, the former five-star tight end out of Las Vegas, Nevada, was a forgotten man in Georgia's offense last season. 

The former No. 2 athlete in the 2020 class was among the most heralded prospects at the tight end position throughout his recruiting process. The only prospect that ranked higher than Washington as a tight end is also on Georgia's roster, Arik Gilbert. 

To open last season, Washington suffered a foot injury in fall camp that sidelined him for the first five games of the season. And as we all know now, that opened the door for the emergence of the true freshmen Brock Bowers. With Bowers running wild in Georgia's offense, it felt as if Washington was still trying to catch up to speed even after returning to the field. Naturally, as you would expect, it meant a drop in production, as the 6-foot-7 tight end recorded just ten receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown. 

The drop in production and a feeling of Washington being a "forgotten man" in Georgia's offense contributed to the offseason rumors of a potential transfer portal exit for the former five-star, which ultimately never came to fruition. Instead, the Nevada native was focused on having a full spring, in which the sophomore sensation Brock Bowers would not partake in the on-field activities due to offseason shoulder surgery. 

Another foot injury suffered right before the onset of spring practice meant Washington would miss all of spring practice. 

Fast forward to the middle of fall camp, and Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247 reported on Twitter that he is hearing that NFL scouts and executives have been impressed with the big #0 on Georgia's offense. 

Putting aside a lack of production as a receiver relative to many's expectations, Washington brings a skill set unique to Brock Bowers or freshman tight end Oscar Delp. Washington is Georgia's strongest blocking tight end on the roster; look no further than the national championship game, where Washington won countless reps taking on Alabama edge rushers like Will Anderson and Dallas Turner. Washington's relentless effort as a blocker guarantees him a future in the NFL; look no further than what former Georgia tight end Charlie Woerner is doing as a member of the 49ers roster.

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That being said, the next step up for the 6-foot-7, 270-pound mismatch would be to make more of an impact in the passing game for the Bulldogs. Staying healthy will obviously be a huge factor, but also finding ways to gain more separation from his defender. 

Georgia's tight end room is one of the most talented position groups in all of college football this season. Bowers will likely gain most of the attention from the opposing defenses, likely leading to more opportunities for Washington, Gilbert, and even the freshmen Oscar Delp.

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