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Malik Washington selected 184th overall in the 2024 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins

The graduate receiver will proudly represent Virginia in the professional ranks, now as a member of an explosive Miami offense

<p>Malik Washington prepares for a critical third down.</p>

Malik Washington prepares for a critical third down.

For the third year in a row, the Cavaliers have an NFL Draft selection. Graduate receiver Malik Washington — a first team All-ACC selection scooped up in the sixth round by Miami — will proudly represent Virginia in the professionals. Looking at Cavalier connections, Washington is the 189th former Cavalier in NFL history. He is also the first Virginia player selected by the Dolphins since Terry Kirby back in 1993.

Washington’s time in Charlottesville was short but sweet, as the speedy slot receiver put up 1,426 yards and nine touchdowns in his lone season with the Cavaliers. He also led all of college football in catches and forced missed tackles by a wide receiver. Washington registered the second most receiving yards in the country and had the second-best receiving grade from Pro Football Focus as well.

Heading into the draft process, Washington dazzled in the NFL Combine and at the Shrine Bowl. He was then expected to be a third or fourth round draft pick but instead fell all the way down to the sixth round. A deep receiver draft class combined with Washington’s narrow projection as a slot receiver specialist, and Virginia’s struggles as a team, likely stunted his draft stock. Somehow, Washington ended up being the 25th receiver selected despite his elite 2023 campaign. To the surprise of most experts, he even incomprehensibly fell behind similar slot specialists such as Anthony Gould of Oregon State despite putting up vastly superior statistics.

Draft stock aside, now Washington officially will head to Miami, where he will compete with Braxton Berrios for the starting slot receiver role. Led by Coach Mike McDaniel, the Dolphins were third across the NFL in points per game last season. Washington will join a receiving room featuring First Team All-Pro Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, the sixth overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft. Miami also selected a second wide receiver — Tahj Washington of Southern California — in the seventh round to further increase competition in an already ultra-talented group.

For Malik Washington, opportunities will be hard to come by, as Miami has a deep arsenal of talent at the wide receiver and running back positions. At the same time, this abundance of surrounding talent will mean that Washington will essentially never face double teams — which he routinely encountered as a Cavalier. The Dolphins feature some of the fastest players in the NFL, such as Hill and the running back duo of Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane. Adding Washington into the mix will only enhance one of the most electric offenses in the league.

Washington should eventually take over the starting role from Berrios, who is on a one-year contract and recorded just 238 yards and a single touchdown in 2023. When Washington takes the field, his elite agility and athleticism will infuse even more energy into the potent Dolphins attack.

Looking ahead to his 2024 rookie season, Washington and Miami will take on a handful of former Cavaliers — notably Dontayvion Wicks’ Green Bay Packers and Juan Thornhills’ Cleveland Browns. 

For Virginia, Washington being selected is another boost for Coach Tony Elliott’s program in terms of recruiting efforts, as Washington will become the fourth Elliott-coached player to reach the NFL. Going into the 2024 season, Washington’s success will only aid in Elliott’s quest to rebuild the Cavaliers into a major conference contender.


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