2018 NFL Draft Scouting Report: James Washington

  • James Washington, 5-10/210

  • Wide Receiver

  • Oklahoma State

  • James Washington Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Deceptively fast
  • Stretches the defense
  • Tracks the ball well
  • Threat to score on any touch
  • Forces teams to keep a safety deep
  • Impacts game plans
  • Good hands
  • Adept at finding soft spots in zone
  • Can defeat double teams
  • Good athleticism
  • Long arms
  • Thick build
  • Durable
  • Experienced starter

  • Weaknesses:
  • Running back build
  • Short for a NFL receiver
  • Not twitchy
  • Not sudden out of breaks
  • Build-up speed
  • Straight-line speed
  • Lacks first-step explosion
  • Could struggle to separate from NFL cornerbacks
  • Not an elusive runner in the open field
  • Ran limited routes in college

  • Summary: Over the past few seasons, James Washington was one of the most productive, consistent and dangerous wide receivers in college football. With Mason Rudolph at quarterback, Oklahoma State dominated the weak Big XII defenses, putting up high point totals on a weekly basis. Washington’s strong collegiate career puts him in position to be selected in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Washington spent the last three years beating up on defensive backs who lacked talent, racking up some prolific numbers. As a sophomore, Washington snagged 53 passes for 1,087 yards with 10 scores. In his junior year, he caught 71 receptions for 1,380 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2016, including a record-setting game against Pittsburgh (9-296-2) and a domination of Colorado cornerback Chidobe Awuzie in the bowl game (9-171-1). Washington caught 74 passes for 1,549 yards with 13 touchdowns as a senior.

    There is no doubt that Washington is a big-play threat. Rudolph had a lot of success in college throwing the ball up and letting Washington track it down by running under it for long gains. Washington has deep speed to stretch defenses downfield. Once he gets going, he can run by cornerbacks and safeties. Washington is very dangerous at running posts down the middle of the field or go routes along the sideline. His build-up speed is deceptively fast and catches defensive backs by surprise. Downfield, Washington uses his thick build, strong hands and long arms to haul in passes. He could fit well in the NFL as an X – split end – receiver who works along the sideline and challenges teams vertically.

    At one point, there were draft analysts and media projecting Washington in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but NFL teams haven’t been grading Washington that high. There are many reasons why teams have Washington later. For starters, Washington is a short receiver with a running back-like build. There haven’t been many successful NFL receivers with Washington’s body type and skill set.

    While Washington is deceptively fast, he lacks instant explosion and first-step quickness. Without quick speed and twitchy athleticism, Washington could have issues separating on short and underneath routes. His deep speed killed Big XII defenses, but in the NFL, he is going to see better cornerbacks who will be able to run with him more often. Washington played in a college spread offense and ran limited routes, so he will need to learn to run more routes in the NFL. With Washington’s height and lack of a quick burst, he could end up being a limited player as a pro.

    Some team sources told me they graded Washington as a mid-rounder for the 2018 NFL Draft. They said the reasons for that is Washington is short with a running back’s build and is not really twitchy. He is deceptively fast, but that is build-up speed rather than first-step explosiveness. Sources also say that Washington has good hands, but doesn’t really make players miss after the catch. One team source said they graded Washington as a late fourth-rounder. A different team had him in the mid-round range as well and said he is a solid receiver but that the lack of height will always hold him back. Others have him higher, and Washington is likely to be a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

    Player Comparison: Leonte Carroo. There aren’t many wide receiver in the NFL who are similar to Washington, but Carroo is one of them. Carroo (6-0, 211) has a similar build and also provided some big plays while playing for Rutgers. Carroo was a third-round pick that hasn’t turned into a consistently productive player yet for the Dolphins.

    NFL Matches: Cleveland, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Washington, Arizona, Buffalo, Baltimore and Jacksonville

    There are a lot of teams that could be in the market for a wide receiver upgrade in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Browns need more receiving talent for their offense, because they can’t count on Josh Gordon to stay on the field and Corey Coleman hasn’t panned out yet. With their second-round picks and third-rounder, the Browns could consider a receiver like Washington on Day 2.

    The Bears and 49ers both could use more pass-catching weapons for their offenses. Chicago badly needs more weapons for Mitch Trubisky, while Washington would be a nice fit for Kyle Shanahan across from Marquise Goodwin.

    The Broncos, Redskins and Cardinals all could be in the market for a receiver upgrade. Denver could look for some young receiving talent. The Redskins signed Terrelle Pryor for 2017, but he is entering free agency after underwhelming in Washington. Arizona has to consider life after Larry Fitzgerald and could use more receiving talent around the future Hall of Famer.

    In Florida, the Jaguars could target a receiver like Ridley if Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee aren’t re-signed.

    The Bills and Ravens also are in the market for receiver help. Buffalo has two first-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and could have a diverse trio with Washington, Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones. Baltimore badly needs more receiving talent for its offense. Washington would make a lot of sense for the Ravens on Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.


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