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Virginia WR Malik Washington Raises Draft Stock in Shrine Bowl Practices

Malik Washington stole the show at the practices leading up to the East-West Shrine Bowl, elevating his stock for the 2024 NFL Draft
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Slowly but surely, NFL scouts and draft experts are beginning to see what Virginia football fans have known for a while now: Malik Washington is the real deal. 

Delivering the best season by a receiver in UVA program history and the one of the most outstanding seasons by any receiver in college football in 2023 wasn't enough to get Washington on many NFL Draft boards, but what he did in the last few days should take care of that. 

This week, alongside some of the top draft-eligible college football players and in front of countless NFL scouts, coaches, and media, Washington participated in practices leading up to the 2024 East-West Shrine Bowl at Ford Center at The Star, the indoor practice facility of the Dallas Cowboys. 

Malik Washington dazzled in those practices and might've just earned himself a big paycheck at the next level. 

But don't just take my word for it. Draft Analyst Chad Reuter listed Malik Washington first among the eight players who most stood out from the Shrine Bowl practices and said the following of Washington's performances:

Washington has been the main attraction during most of this week's practices. His quick moves and acceleration into and out of his breaks were on full display Monday; defenders are forced to attack him at the line (which isn't easy) or simply watch him separate. He won inside position on Pitt cornerback M.J. Devonshire on a goal-line play with a shake off the snap, making an easy touchdown for his quarterback. While measuring just a tad over 5-foot-8, Washington scored after high-pointing a pass with strong hands on Saturday, displaying an all-around game that could induce teams to project him as an immediate starter in the slot.

Footage from these practices is limited, but if Washington was making catches like these, it's no surprise that the Cavalier wideout was the star of the show. 

At the end of the week, the coaches running the practices selected Washington to the All-Shrine Bowl West Practice Team, with the selection criteria recognizing "outstanding attitude, dedication, and leadership on and off the field."

Pro Football Network also selected Washington as the Offensive Player of the Week at the Shrine Bowl. 

Tony Cataline of Pro Football Network had this to say about Washington to go along with the selection:

If you went around and asked anyone about who made the most noise this week amongst scouts and on-lookers, the first name out of most people’s mouths would be Malik Washington.

Washington was sensational all week long and never really took his foot off the gas.

Washington displayed good body control, fluidity off the line, and smooth route running while showing a nice catch radius and willingness to go and grab the ball in the air. Washington doesn’t have the biggest frame, and while his measurements will be a knock for some, his play is hard to ignore, and he will make some NFL teams very happy in April.

Having already significantly elevated his draft stock in practice, Washington opted not to play in the East-West Shrine Bowl on Thursday night, making the reasonable call to instead save himself for the next step in the pre-draft process, which is the NFL Scouting Combine from February 26th-March 4th in Indianapolis. After that, it's on to the 2024 NFL Draft from April 25th-27th in Detroit, where it seems Malik Washington is likely to hear his name called. 

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