Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 there has only been one other NFL Draft besides 2016 where the eighth running back taken came off the board as late as the 5th round. That was in 2010. Even then there were still three more running backs taken in the first two rounds than this year. Things have changed. NFL teams just don’t invest the draft capital they once did with running backs. In light of this truth, it shouldn’t really deter anyone from taking a closer look at the fantastic Texas Tech RB, that is, DeAndre Washington, even though he was the taken “late” with the 4th pick of the 5th round this year.
As a true freshman in 2011 DeAndre Washington arrived at Texas Tech seemingly buried in a running back by committee situation sharing carries with Eric Stephens, Aaron Crawford & Kenny Williams. Even so, he still managed to carry the ball 77 times for 366 yards and 3 touchdowns. Plus, he added 19 receptions for 109 yards through the air.
He was then strategically red-shirted as it was clear he had potential that could be taken advantage of after the other primary ball-carriers were gone. After the backfield was truly his there was no hiding the real DeAndre Washington. In 2014 he blew up with 1103 yards on the ground and 328 through the air. His final year at Texas Tech was the most impressive though. In just 13 games he ran for 1492 yards & scored 14 times on the ground in an incredibly pass-heavy offense. He added 41 catches for 385 yards & 2 scores through the air.
Yeah. So what? He’s too small to be a real three-down guy right? Wrong. He may be 5’8”, but he’s packing around the same height/weight ratio as some of last year’s highly touted guys like David Johnson, Duke Johnson, Melvin Gordon, & yes, even Todd Gurley. Plus, his size/speed ratio (40-time/pounds per inch) is better than Duke and Melvin.
Okay, so if he’s a short, yet somehow big-bodied guy, he must not be agile, right? Wrong again. Both his 20-yard shuttle & 3-cone drills scored above average for this class. He also forced a missed tackle every 4 touches this past year according to Pro Football Focus (good for 5th in this class).
DeAndre Washington is a guy that may be below the radar for most, but is so undeservedly. He was taken a full round ahead of where his only real competition for snaps (Latavius Murray) was drafted. He was taken ahead of hyped RBs like Paul Perkins & Jordan Howard too. He’s solid in the passing game, receiving & blocking. He can run in between the tackles & forced missed tackles when needed. In the end, what’s not to like?
If you want to picture a couple ideal pro comps for him just take a look at some old Ray Rice or Brian Westbrook tape. They’re both slightly undersized guys who pack a punch, force missed tackles & contribute in all facets of the game. Still not a believer? Just enjoy some highlights from his senior season.
Redraft – For Latavius Murray owners, Washington needs to be on the radar. He may not contribute much to start the season, but if Murray goes down or is nearly as inefficient as he was last year, the Raiders may try out their new toy on early downs too. At the very least he should see some receptions that may make him a relevant PPR flex option by week 8 or 9.
Draft Stock: If camp and preseason go well for DeAndre he may go in between pick 133 and 140 in many drafts.
Dynasty – Although I mentioned DeAndre Washington as a late round steal back in March, he has been climbing rookie draft boards some as of late. And even though there are plenty of Latavius Murray believers, there’s also a lot of data out there that says he has been borderline terrible. If Murray continues with his mediocrity Washington could easily become the 1A in this possible running back by committee situation. His career upside could be a solid RB2 for years to come, especially in PPR.
Draft Stock: Top 19-28 rookie pick or 160th-200th in startup dynasty drafts is common.