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What does Malik Washington’s Draft stock look like after the NFL Combine?

With the NFL Draft approaching, the Virginia star looks to continue his electric play in the professional ranks

<p>Washington is widely considered to be the one of best slot receiver prospects in the draft, a reflection of being one of the most productive receivers in college football last season.</p>

Washington is widely considered to be the one of best slot receiver prospects in the draft, a reflection of being one of the most productive receivers in college football last season.

One word stood out when analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Peter Schrager discussed former Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington at the NFL Combine in early March — “fun.” Both NFL Network analysts described him as “fun to watch” during the wide receiver workouts of the NFL Draft. Although a short evaluation of the player, it is altogether accurate. Washington is a player that is always open, even when he is covered by multiple players. Washington beats the defender with his route-running ability, or Washington beats perfect coverage. Hoping for ample opportunities on a talented professional squad, there are a few likely landing spots.

Washington entered the Combine with a lot of quiet anticipation after shining at the East-West Shrine Bowl scouting week — so much so that the former Cavalier opted not to participate in the actual game because of how strong his showings in practice were. Based on reports, Washington was by far the best player in Frisco, Texas that week. 

The first-team All-ACC star jumped a ridiculous 42.5 inches in the vertical, rewarding him with the co-highest vertical of the Combine this year. This jumping ability combined with his compact and muscular build can help explain why Washington finished third in the nation for contested catch percentage out of all receivers eligible for the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Washington also showed off his strength on the bench press. Washington tied for second place out of the receivers at the Combine with an impressive 19 reps of 225 pounds. While the number is obviously positive, it was already expected for him to finish in the higher percentile on the exercise based on the strength he showed on game days. Overall, it can be said that Washington helped his draft stock at the NFL Combine, which had already risen after the East-West Shrine Bowl. 

To answer this question of where Washington’s draft stock stands post-Combine, it is important to consider what Washington’s role will be in the NFL. As mentioned before, he is a bona fide slot receiver because of his height, run-after-catch ability and route running. 

Washington’s height and weight combination gives him more of a running back build instead of the traditional wide receiver archetype, something that shows up on tape. Two of his best abilities are fighting through contact and running after the catch, which are usually attributed to running backs. As a prospect, Washington can be described as a shorter version of Deebo Samuel, star wide receiver of the San Francisco 49ers.

Washington is widely considered to be the one of best slot receiver prospects in the draft, a reflection of being one of the most productive receivers in college football last season. Based on his production and skillset, Washington would be a token second-round pick most years. However, this draft is not like many others. 

The 2024 NFL Draft is arguably one of the most loaded and deepest wide receiver draft classes of all time. This makes Washington’s draft stock extremely unpredictable, especially because NFL teams tend to value outside receivers higher in the draft than slot receivers. Looking at current team needs, there are a handful of squads who will most likely have an interest in Washington. 

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals have multiple needs entering the draft, notably their lack of wide receiver depth. The only receiver on the roster with over 500 yards the season prior is Michael Wilson, who ended his rookie season with only three touchdowns. While the Cardinals are widely predicted to take megastars Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State or Malik Nabers of Louisiana State with their first round pick, they still would need help at the slot position after losing Rondale Moore to free agency.

Buffalo Bills

The Bills’ needs are simple — Josh Allen needs someone to throw to. After the blockbuster trade of Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans, Allen has no bona fide top receiver. If the Bills opt to draft multiple receivers this year, Washington could be in the mix.  

Cincinnati Bengals 

This one is pretty clear cut — the Bengals lost Tyler Boyd, a premier slot receiver, and need to replace quality production. Washington would be a clear improvement over Andrei Iosivas, the likely starter, who registered just 116 receiving yards in 2023. 

Detroit Lions

With Kalif Raymond turning 30 before the season begins, it is reasonable to assume that the Lions might be looking for an alternative at the slot position. At the very least, the Lions are looking for more depth at the receiver position to complement Amon-Ra St. Brown as Jameson Williams continues to struggle with staying healthy. 

Green Bay Packers

Yes, it may be lazy to suggest that the Packers might draft Washington because they found tremendous value in drafting former Cavalier Dontayvion Wicks in the 5th round. However, they were reported to have talked to Washington after his Pro Day workout. The Packers currently have depth, but the quality often comes into question. The Packers’ main goal is to help their young quarterback Jordan Love, and the Virginia product could yield strong value for a 3rd or 4th round pick. 

Los Angeles Chargers 

After trading Keenan Allen, the Chargers are arguably one of the most receiver-needy teams in the league. The first-round pick in 2023, Quentin Johnston, did not meet expectations, and the fourth-round pick, Derius Davis, only had 66 yards receiving during his rookie year. Washington could be a much-needed slot receiver for the team to compliment Joshua Palmer. 

Before the pre-draft process, projections had Washington going between the third and fourth round. However, his performance during the East-West Shrine Bowl week combined with the Combine will most likely solidify Washington as a third-round pick. A slot-needy team may find it difficult to pass up his talent if he is still available in the third round, but wherever he lands, Washington will certainly make his Virginia program proud through continuous success in the professional ranks. 


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