Pittsburgh Steelers rookie tight end Darnell Washington takes his position very seriously and firmly believes there should be a distinction between elite tight ends and receivers. Therefore, the stickler purposefully omitted Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce from his top-5 TE rankings.
Yes, he’s listed as a tight end,” Washington said on the latest edition of the All Things Covered podcast, via CBS Sports’ Bryan DeArdo. “He’s in tight end formations here and there. But to me, he’s just a bigger receiver.”
The two-time national champion with the Georgia Bulldogs was sure to praise Kelce’s greatness but does not think he fits the criteria for a top tight end, which traditionally includes taking on a lot of blocking duties. Though, some of the names on Washington’s list- George Kittle, Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz and Steelers teammate Pat Freiermouth – do not fit that bill, either.
Truthfully, while there are still old-school tight ends peppered throughout the NFL, the ones valued the most can devastate defenses with their ability to find open space and pull down targets in the red zone. Although he fell to the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, Darnell Washington impressed scouts with the strides he made as a pass-catcher. He recorded 28 receptions for 454 yards and two touchdowns.
That is an integral feature in a league that heavily relies on a strong aerial attack. Travis Kelce is not going to intimidate opposing defensive lineman in the trenches, but he can hold his own when asked to so. Leaving him out of any active tight end rankings feels blasphemous, especially since he is already considered an all-time great.
Washington’s role in his rookie season remains to be seen with Freiermouth also there, but Pittsburgh will likely be using plenty of two tight-end sets in their offense. A strong first impression, and few will even remember this controversial take.
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