The Green Bay Packers have a big need at tight end this offseason, and while general manager Brian Gutekunst hasn’t gone after a big name in free agency, he’s doing his homework on the prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft.
With the draft just a month away, the Packers have already begun their “top-30 visits” by bringing in prospects to meet in person. Gutekunst has specifically had a strong connection between the prospects he brings in for visits and the players he drafts.
Because of that correlation, Packers fans tend to get excited when a prospect comes in for a visit. That’s exactly what happened when former Georgia Bulldogs tight end Darnell Washington posted on Instagram that he was in Green Bay.
A visit doesn’t guarantee that the Packers will draft Washington. However, with their need at tight end and the prospect’s unique skill set at the position, it indicates that the Packers are considering taking a swing on the young back-to-back national champion.
Why Do the Packers Need a Tight End?
It hasn’t been a busy offseason for the Packers, but their departures via free agency have left some big holes on the roster that need to be filled before the start of the 2023 season.
Robert Tonyan had been the team’s most consistent weapon in the passing game at tight end, but a down year in 2022 while recovering from a torn ACL led to his departure this offseason. Now, the former Packers weapon will be playing for the Chicago Bears on a one-year deal in 2023.
Meanwhile, it’s unclear what veteran tight end Marcedes Lewis plans to do. The 38-year-old could be seriously considering retirement given his age and his physical play style, but the New York Jets have shown interest in Big Dog as they attempt to lure former teammate of Aaron Rodgers onto their roster.
The Packers currently only have two tight ends on their roster after the team announced that Tyler Davis had been re-signed. Davis will likely serve in a backup or rotational role, while the team’s other tight end in Josiah Deguara has largely been featured as a lead blocker out of the backfield with limited pass-catching opportunities.
Regardless of how optimistic the Packers are about the development of both Deguara and Davis, the team will need to pick up at least one more starting-caliber tight end in the 2023 draft.
What Can Darnell Washington Bring to Green Bay?
Other tight end prospects like Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer and Utah’s Dalton Kincaid are getting most of the national attention, but Washington is far and away the most unique tight end in this draft class.
Coming in at a massive 6’7″ and 264 pounds, Washington didn’t put up the numbers that fellow Georgia tight end Brock Bowers did over the last couple seasons. The junior only caught 28 passes for 454 yards and two touchdowns in 2022, but that’s because of the role he was asked to play for Georgia’s offense.
Washington served as essentially a sixth offensive lineman for the Bulldogs, and he thrived in that role. With size, strength, and willingness as a blocker, Washington paved the way for the team’s rushing attack by dominating his matchups.
Despite limited pass-catching opportunities, Washington still showed off his athleticism as a receiver. With Lewis likely on his way out, Washington would be the perfect replacement for the veteran in-line tight end and could become an impact player in Matt LaFleur’s offense.