Scouting Profile: Wide Receiver James Washington

by Mike Tagliere | @MikeTagliereNFL | Featured Writer
Mar 27, 2018

Oklahoma State’s James Washington has shown the ability to separate on the deep ball

James Washington, Oklahoma State

Height: 5’11”
Weight: 213 pounds
40-yard dash: 4.54 seconds
Vertical: 34.5 inches
Broad Jump: 10’0″

When you first look at Washington, he’s built like a running back. It translates to paper, too, as his body comp is someone like Marshawn Lynch, who is 5-foot-11 and 215 pounds. But once you sit down to watch Washington play, he’s a wide receiver through and through. Oddly enough, he’s more of a finesse player than a physical one, but he’s not soft, either.

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The first thing you should know about Washington is that he led all of Division-I wide receivers in yardage, totaling 1,549 yards in his senior year. In fact, there were just two games in which Washington failed to record at least 91 yards receiving, so his yardage wasn’t of the boom/bust variety. He also recorded at least five receptions in 10-of-13 games, highlighting the ability to be somewhat of a possession receiver.

Size/Versatility: 2.5 out of 5 stars
This may be one of Washington’s biggest downfalls, as he’s not big enough to sky over defenders, and isn’t quick enough to play out of the slot. Because of that, he played almost all his snaps at right wide receiver for Oklahoma State with limited slot work. He somehow makes it work, though, as he uses his body to shield defenders extremely well and is also an exceptional blocker in the run game. Because of the way he’s able to maximize his size, he receives an average grade here.

Route Running/Ability to Separate: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is the area where Washington shines on film. He’s not able to run the full route tree at this time, so it’ll take him some time to make a consistent impact in the NFL. But the routes he does run, he runs very well. He does round out some of his underneath routes, limiting his separation on intermediate throws. The key thing with him in this category, though, is his ability to separate deep down the field. He’s able to sell his routes with both his eyes and hands, as he tricks defenders into believing he’s going one way only to wind up a few yards behind them. There’s room to grow in this area, but he’s impressive in what he’s shown to this point.

Speed: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Some were surprised to see Washington run in the 4.5-second range, but it seemed like a decent time for him. I say that because he lacks initial burst off the line of scrimmage, something that will rear its ugly head in the 40-yard dash. His game-speed isn’t much of a problem, though. He does have to build-up some speed, but it kind of fits the player he is. He’s not fast or twitchy enough to be a slot receiver, but continually shows the ability to beat the defender over the top. He’s got multiple gears in his routes, and he seems to dig down when it matters most. As long as a team understands what Washington’s strengths and weaknesses are, speed won’t be an issue.

Hands: 4.0 out of 5 stars
My favorite thing about Washington is his ability to track the deep ball and come down with them a majority of time. There are few NFL wide receivers who adjust to the deep ball the way he does, and that’s a massive compliment. He also does the little things right, like not raise his hands to catch the ball until the very last second. It makes life extremely difficult on the defensive backs because they’re often trying to track him instead of the ball. The way he tracks the ball over his shoulder is extremely impressive, even when the ball is thrown significantly off-target. So, even if his hands aren’t the “snatch it out of the air” type, they’re impressive when they matter most.

Awareness: 3.5 out of 5 stars
If you’re looking for limitations with Washington, there are some in his ability to read zone defenses. He wasn’t asked to do a whole lot of improvising while at Oklahoma State, which might be a good thing considering he doesn’t create much separation underneath. But going back to his awareness on the deep ball and his ability to track that ball with the best of them, he receives a slightly above-average grade. He’s also very mindful of the sideline, has great body control, and times his jumps extremely well.

After the Catch: 2.5 out of 5 stars
It’s kind of disappointing to not see Washington get a higher grade in this category, as his size should translate to a monster after the catch. But again, he’s more of a deep threat which means if he beats the defender and catches it, he’s likely gone. When we saw him make catches underneath, he’d often be tackled relatively quickly because there’s almost always a defender in the vicinity. You won’t mistake him for Dez Bryant after the catch any time soon. His vision in the open field is solid, though nothing out of the ordinary.

Potential Landing Spot
If we’re looking for a team that could use a player like Washington, it’s the Dallas Cowboys. They’ve been searching for a wide receiver to play opposite Dez Bryant, and Washington would compliment him very well. While they’ve tried to experiment with Bryant going deep more often with Dak Prescott, that’s not what Bryant excels at. Adding Washington would open-up the offense and allow Prescott to take more chances down the field. Opposing secondaries would be forced to decide on which wide receiver to double-team, and we know Bryant can in win one-on-one situations. A few other teams who could be interested should he last into the second-round include the Packers, Saints, and Ravens.

NFL Comparison
It’s hard to compare Washington to an NFL wide receiver because his body frame usually amounts to a different sort of player. But if forced to pick one, I’d probably say someone like Rishard Matthews. Despite being a bigger wide receiver, he’s able to get open down the field and isn’t treated as a possession receiver. While I believe Washington will turn out to be the better NFL player, that’s the best comparison I could come up with. If you want to be extremely optimistic, Roddy White was one of those players early in his career, though he was a much more precise route-runner than Washington and had more initial burst.

Don’t miss the other Scouting Profiles on top prospects below:
Saquon Barkley (RB – Penn State)
Derrius Guice (RB – LSU)
Ronald Jones (RB – USC)
Sony Michel (RB – Georgia)
Nick Chubb (RB – Georgia)
Royce Freeman (RB – Oregon)
Rashaad Penny (RB – San Diego State)
Kerryon Johnson (RB – Auburn)
John Kelly (RB – Tennessee)
Kalen Ballage (RB – Arizona State)
Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)

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Mike Tagliere is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @MikeTagliereNFL.

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