There are hundreds of stories and opinions shared during the planning and anticipation stages of the 2018 NFL Draft. As a former high school football coach and educator by trade, one of my passions include providing film-based reviews on rookie prospects and focusing on their strengths and weakness which may assist other fantasy football enthusiasts in their evaluations.
After reviewing six of his games, here’s my scouting report on senior Oklahoma State Cowboy James Washington:
[Note: Most of these game videos are available via YouTube and Draft Breakdown]
WR James Washington, Oklahoma State
5’11” | 213 lbs.
Games Studied: 2018 Senior Bowl, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU
Cons: The Oklahoma State Cowboys play in the Big 12 Conference; a conference seldom known for fielding ferocious defenses. James Washington was a four-year starter there, and even though a lot of his offensive production was likely inflated due to lack of quality defensive scheme and player competition, I would remind potential fantasy owners that the wide receiver played who was on his schedule. Perhaps a bigger concern for Washington is that he ran a limited route tree with even sloppier routes, and rarely sank his hips to change directions. While this might not be an issue for a big-armed quarterback like Cam Newton who throws in a general direction, it will cause problems for more timing precise signal callers like Tom Brady who expect their receivers to be at a certain spot on the field. The NFL team that drafts Washington will have a massive impact on his production potential.
Another hiccup surrounding Washington’s adaptability at the next level is the type of physical coverage that he faced as a Cowboy. Washington didn’t see much press coverage and rarely had NFL-level corners moving along with him. Could he learn these skills? Of course, but will it come easily after four years of easy releases off the line? That might take a while. Washington also struggled with body catching at times which is a bit surprising considering he has very strong hands that can pluck the pigskin out of the air well. At times, I witnessed him struggle to shield the ball from defenders. While he wins many of his 50/50 passing targets, Washington needs to do a better job keeping defensive backs away. Now, unless Washington becomes a day one starter, he will need to play special teams which might be a struggle as he has almost zero experience with them.
Pros: Washington has a college career average of 19.8 yards per catch. In fact, the wide receiver has 30 collegiate receptions of 40+ yards which makes him quite the scary downfield threat. Washington excels at getting separation deep, tracking and adjusting to the ball well in the air, and attacking the pigskin at its highest point all while never breaking stride. Now, this isn’t to say Washington is a one-trick pony. He is also familiar working shorter pass patterns and is willing to go over the middle as well. This playmaker works both on the line and in the slot, but with his struggles against physical coverage, he might see more time in motion or out of the slot initially at the next level. When Washington has faced press coverage before, he used his quickness to free himself.
Washington seems to play even faster when he has the ball in his hands. He adds some wiggle, a few jump cuts, and power that you normally only see from running backs in the open field. Washington even has more of the running back type body as opposed to the leaner, more athletic wideout package. While the wide receiver is not a great run blocker, he gives a lot of effort and should be able to be coached up, allowing him to stay on the gridiron for most situations, which is what you are looking for in a starting NFL and fantasy receiver.
Overall impressions: This year’s wide receiver class is not stock full of elite options. There are quite a few talented players, but not much separates them. So even though I have Washington as my second-best rookie wide receiver, I don’t think he is that much better than Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, Memphis’ Anthony Miller, or Alabama’s Calvin Ridley.I would find a way to take the last of the top five wide receivers remaining on the draft board instead of being the first owner to draft one. Lastly, as a friendly reminder, D.J. Moore is my #1 rookie wide receiver in this class.
Thanks for reading. Leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, I will continue to generate and discuss these 2018 rookie scouting reports with you. Therefore, be sure to keep an eye on DTC for all of the new content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.