The Steelers' rookie tight end tabbed teammate Pat Freiermuth, the 49ers' George Kittle, the Giants' Darren Waller, the Ravens' Mark Andrews and the Cardinals' Zach Ertz as his top-five NFL tight ends. While he acknowledged that Kelce is a "great" player, Washington doesn't consider Kelce to be a tight end in the conventional sense.
"Yes, he's listed as a tight end," Washington said on the latest edition of the "All Things Covered" podcast co-hosted by Peterson and McFadden. "He's in tight end formations here and there. But to me, he's just a bigger receiver."
Washington wasn't trying to discredit Kelce, whose career milestones include being an eight-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro and two-time Super Bowl champion. He just believes that, in order to be considered a tight end, you have to spend more time with your hand in the dirt.
Washington compared Kelce to Atlanta tight end Kyle Pitts, who missed out on winning the John Mackey Award in consecutive years in college because he didn't line up as a conventional tight end enough during the 2020 season.
While he may not consider Kelce a tight end, it's safe to say that Washington would love to have the type of career Kelce has enjoyed in Kansas City. Like Kelce, Washington is a third-round pick who is motivated to show that he should have drafted significantly higher.
"Honestly, it was hard," Washington said about not being drafted until the Steelers selected him with the 93rd overall pick despite being considered by many as a first-round talent. "I felt like I crushed the Combine. I felt like I crushed the meetings. The only thing that I didn't have that the other guys had was the production and the numbers.
"I felt like I did everything in my ability. ... Just waiting there, I was just low key irritated [and] mad because I felt like I was more talented than some of the guys that went before me."
Washington's loss was the Steelers' gain, as Pittsburgh leapt at the chance to select him late in the third round. Along with being used as a blocker, Washington will serve as another option in the passing game for second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett. One of Washington's initial takeaways from his short time with Pickett is how hard the ball comes out of his hand.
After being part of a two-time national championship team at Georgia, Washington is now part of a young but promising Steelers offense, a unit that also includes his former college teammate, second-year wideout George Pickens. While he wasn't used as much as Steelers fans would have liked during his rookie season, Pickens still managed to make several jaw-dropping catches while averaging 15.4 yards-per-catch during his first season in Pittsburgh.
As good as he was as a rookie, Washington feels that Pickens is just scratching the surface of his potential.
"His potential, there's no roof on it," Washington said of Pickens, who like Washington wasn't drafted in the first round despite being regarded as a first-round talent. "His ball skills are crazy. I can't even explain it. ... I saw him act like the ball was evading him, and he'd just cut in at the last minute. His ball skills just make him unique. ... With this upcoming season, expect the world from him."