Parker Washington’s Catch Radius, Reliability Make Him High-Potential Prospect In 2023 NFL Draft
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parker Washington arrived at Penn State in 2020. A native of Sugar Land, Texas, Washington came to Happy Valley as a four-star recruit who was ranked as the 40th-best overall player in the Lone Star State and the 45th-best wide receiver in the Class of 2020, according to 247Sports.
Washington emerged as a viable target despite being part of such a crowded room during his freshman season in 2020. He played in all nine games during the shortened season due to the pandemic, hauling in 36 receptions for 489 yards and six touchdowns. He was particularly effective in the Nittany Lions’ win over Michigan State, with two touchdowns and a season-high 95 yards.
Although Penn State finished with a dismal 4-5 record in 2020, the program had a young and promising wide receiver to look forward to for future seasons.
Sure enough, Washington continued to be one of Penn State’s most reliable wideouts in 2021. Through all 13 games, he had a career-high 64 receptions and 820 yards, while hauling in four touchdowns. Washington exploded for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Villanova, which was his best game of the 2021 season.
Throughout his first two seasons, Washington was Penn State’s No. 2 wide receiver behind Jahan Dotson. In his third season, however, it was his turn to be quarterback Sean Clifford’s top receiving target.
In the 2022 season, Washington led Penn State with 611 receiving yards. Additionally, he had two touchdowns and 46 receptions. Washington’s best game of the season was Penn State’s heartbreaking loss to Ohio State when he scored a touchdown along with a season-high 179 receiving yards on 11 catches.
Unfortunately, Washington’s season was cut short after sustaining an injury that caused him to miss the last three games of the season, including the Rose Bowl.
On December 9, 2022, Washington declared for the 2023 NFL Draft. He finished his Penn State career with 146 receptions, 1,920 yards, and 12 touchdowns. His total receiving yards rank 12th-most in program history.
Washington is widely expected to hear his name called at the end of the month. However, it’s unclear when that will be. Unlike fellow Nittany Lion Joey Porter Jr., who is expected to be selected in the first round, where Washington will be drafted has fluctuated in many mock drafts.
According to NFL Mock Draft Database, Washington is ranked as the No. 129-best overall prospect and is expected to be taken somewhere in the fourth round. Meanwhile, Randy Gurzi of FanSided’s Dawg Pound Daily has the Cleveland Browns selecting Washington in the third round with the No. 98 overall pick. The consensus appears to be that Washington will be selected in one of the middle rounds, with a third or fourth-round selection looking like the most likely outcome.
NFL.com gave Washington a 5.95 prospect grade, which equates to an average backup or special teams player. While some of his weaknesses listed by the website include below-average explosiveness, a below-average tempo when running routes, and a struggle to separate from athletic corners, there’s clearly potential in Washington.
Although Washington has his weaknesses, he also offers strengths. NFL.com believes Washington possesses elite in-air talent, which can be seen as he makes difficult catches. After he makes receptions, he tends to be effective after the catch. For example, one of his touchdowns against the Buckeyes featured two broken tackles before taking the ball 58 yards to the end zone.
Those types of plays, and the potential for them to happen in the NFL, should excite scouts and general managers who are considering selecting Washington.
Although it remains to be seen what Washington will ultimately do in the NFL, his effectiveness should be an enticing aspect of his game to NFL teams.
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About the Author
When paired with the Thespian Society by Penn State THON, the world changed for Theresa Illicete.
Fashanu is the Nittany Lions’ most recent First-Team All-American since Micah Parsons in 2019.
Johnson is the second Penn Stater to declare for the NFL Draft.