Jaguars might have passed on the chance to draft TE Marcedes Lewis clone in 2023

Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (0) leaps over Oregon defensive back Bryan Addison (13).
Georgia tight end Darnell Washington (0) leaps over Oregon defensive back Bryan Addison (13). / Joshua L. Jones / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tight end Darnell Washington was projected to be taken in the first or second round in the months preceding the 2023 NFL Draft. However, potential injury flags pushed him down to Round 3, where the Pittsburgh Steelers ended up taking him. While the Jacksonville Jaguars believe Branton Strange -- their second-round pick -- can give their tight end room a huge boost, by passing on Washington, they might have missed the opportunity to select Marcedes Lewis' potential clone.

Jonathan Heitritter of Steelers Depot recently broke down the similarities between Washington and Marcedes Lewis and believes that the former Georgia Bulldog compares favorably to Lewis, who played with the Jaguars for 12 years before joining the Green Bay Packers in 2018.

Heitritter points out that Washington and Lewis have nearly identical weight and length relative to their body frame but notes that the former is more athletic. He goes on to say that both tight ends have similarities as pass-catchers and add that Washington has the same aggression as Lewis in blocking assignments. Heitritter concludes by saying that the Steelers will have found a "stellar get" if Washington can have a Lewis-type of career.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers got a gift with Darnell Washington as long as he did and should he stay healthy, he can become quite the NFL player both from a pass catching and blocking perspective. "

Washington never tallied more than 28 catches in a season during his time at Georgia but he's got the athletic skills to develop into a highly productive pass catcher in the pros. If he ends up having a career arc similar to Lewis, Pittsburgh will have then found a potential steal in this year's draft.

Lewis caught more than 50 passes in a season just twice and only made one Pro Bowl during his career. However, he was highly dependable, and being able to suit up for 17 seasons in a sport where the average career lifespan is three years is a feat worth recognizing.

The Jaguars must've thought Branton Strange was a better fit than Darnell Washington

The Jags might have been one of many teams that showed reservations about Washington's potential injury risk but the Las Vegas native clarified after being drafted that his knee was fine. But even if the knee wasn't an issue, general manager Trent Baalke might have thought that Penn State's Branton Strange was a better fit for the offense.

After the draft, the Jaguars' brass said that they liked Strange's versatility and added that the former Nittany Lion was a culture fit. While Strange might not be nearly as good a blocker as Washington, he's still pretty good and his ability to churn out yards after the catch will be welcomed on the Jaguars' offense.

Although the Brenton Strange was received with a blank stare, head coach Doug Pederson's history of working with tight ends should be a reason for optimism. If Strange can be the next in line of successful tight ends Pederson's develop, nobody will second-guess the Jaguars' decision to pass on Washington, even if turns out to be Marcedes Lewis 2.0.

Next. Way-too-early-predictions for all 13 Jaguars draftees in 2023. dark