“You talk about a young dude who’s up and coming, it’s going to be James Washington,” JuJu Smith Schuster told ESPN, via NFL.com. “A guy from Oklahoma State, came to the Steelers his rookie year, started off slow but figured it out and got the ropes down.
“This past summer workouts that we had, he’s been doing amazing, a great job. I’m super excited to see how he does this year. He’s our guy that’s going to sneak up on everybody.”
Here is our breakdown on Washington:
The former second-rounder was highly productive in college, racking up 145 catches for 2929 yards and 23 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Oklahoma State. He won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver in 2017 and was a favorite of #ReceptionPerception creator Matt Harmon as he evaluated last year’s draft class. After a strong preseason—catching seven passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns—Washington had a quiet rookie year, catching just 16 balls for 217 yards and a touchdown on 30 targets, but there wasn’t much room for Washington in the offense with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster gobbling up 166+ targets apiece. Even though he was playing fifth fiddle in the passing game, Washington still played 55% of the snaps and had two of his best games late in the season, posting 3-65 on four targets against the Patriots in Week 15 and 3-64 on three targets in Week 17 with Brown sidelined. As a receiver who is very likely to see 100+ targets from Ben Roethlisberger in a potent offense, Washington is definitely in the WR3 mix this summer and has the upside to finish in the top 20.