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NFL Draft Prospect Preview - Malik Washington

by Ryan Myers


Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated.


At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.


Today’s Spotlight - Virginia, Wide Receiver, Malik Washington


Name - Malik Washington

Pos - WR

Team - Virginia

HT/WT - 5’8” 194 lbs.

Home - Lawrenceville, GA


Malik Washington played his high school football at Parkview High School where he registered 792 receiving yards and five touchdowns with 287 rushing yards and nine scores as a senior. He was also named Team MVP and Regional Player of the Year as a senior and was a three-time first-team All-Region, two-time All-County, and named the 2018 Gwinnett Athlete of the Year. Over his high school career, he earned three-star recruit ratings from Rivals.com, 247Sports, and ESPN. He chose to attend Northwestern out of high school over offers from Auburn, Virginia Tech, Tennessee and many others.


In his first two seasons at Northwestern, Washington had very limited playing time and hauled in 11 catches for 76 yards and no touchdowns. In his third year, he earned much more playing time as he played in 12 games, starting 7 of them. He totaled 44 receptions for 578 yards (both second on the team) and 2 touchdowns. He played his way into more snaps and starts as the season went on and eventually earned himself a full time starting role in his fourth season.


In his senior year with Northwestern, Washington used his starting role to put up 65 receptions for 694 yards and 1 touchdown. He was a third-team All-Big-10 selection by Pro Football Focus in 2022, and was a three-time Academic All Big 10 selection while at Northwestern.


After his senior season, he chose to continue his education and his college football career, but transferred to Virginia for the 2023 season. His season so far at Virginia has shattered his career highs and has brought the attention of the NFL world onto him as a draft prospect. He has started in 10 of the 11 games he’s played for the Cavaliers so far, and has hauled in 96 receptions for 1,311 yards and 9 touchdowns, all of which lead the team. He is also on pace to set a career high in yards per reception as he currently averages 13.7 YPC.


Washington is a very shifty and talented route runner with great ability to create space for himself out of the slot. When he gets the ball underneath, he is a threat to make people miss and turn short passes to first downs and big plays. He has reliable hands which, combined with his route running talent, makes him a versatile and trusty weapon. His run after catch ability can be attributed to his combinations of speed and twitchiness which make him very difficult to bring down in the open field.


At 5’8”, Washington has limited options when it comes to his usage. He is not reliable in 50/50 ball situations and gets almost all of his usage from the slot. This is not something which will drop his draft stock as there are several undersized receivers who have made very successful careers for themselves in the slot. However, he’s not able to play as physically as other receivers which leads to his struggles in breaking tackles, using power, and in blocking.


A possible player comparison for Malik Washington is Texas A&M product and current Jacksonville Jaguar, Christian Kirk. Kirk was commended for his running after the catch and his versatility with the ball in his hands. Similar to Washington, he was criticized for his below-average catch radius and blocking struggles. However, Kirk has made a solid career for himself in the slot as and is currently having one of his best seasons with the Jags. His reliable hands and crisp routes are his strengths and allow him to be a reliable safety net for Trevor Lawrence.



Strengths

  • Route Running

  • Run After Catch

  • Reliable Hands

  • Athleticism


Weaknesses

  • Catch Radius

  • Physicality

  • Blocking


Final Analysis


Malik Washington’s reliable hands and great run after catch production makes him a threat to make tacklers miss and create big plays. He’s athletic but undersized which leads to his struggles with 50/50 balls and physical coverages. However, he is not afraid of contact and will make a nice, late 3rd day pick for some lucky NFL team.


Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 6th round or 7th round

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