James Washington – Oklahoma State
WR 5’11” 205
The two biggest things working against James Washington are psychological. He doesn’t fit within the parameters of a traditional wide receiver build, and he wears number 28. (This sounds crazy, but there were people pointing out the “lack of explosiveness” of the number 45 when Michael Jordan returned from retirement; we attach a style and persona to numbers that colors our perception.) 28 is not a wide receiver.
Except this 28 is an exceptional receiver. He has very smooth hands, almost always catching the ball away from his body. Although his height will be a concern, Washington makes up for his lacking verticality by using his body to effectively block out defensive backs. Physicality is not the only tool in his box; Washington can also win with speed off the break to create a window of separation. He is good in traffic or on deeper routes, where his ability to adjust to the flight of the ball is apparent.
James Washington does come with his share of warts; he isn’t a tremendous blocker, he can be muscled into give up on a route, and he doesn’t always give his best effort to break up an interception on a bad ball. His lack of size will bring up questions as to where he fits into an NFL scheme; rumblings are that he’s better suited to play in the slot at the next level.
Whether he ends up as a slot receiver with vertical threat potential, or on the outside succeeding in less conventional ways, I’m buying in on James Washington, receiver.