Oct 13, 2012; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers wide receiver L

2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report - L'Damian Washington, WR Missouri


Missouri wide receiver L’Damian Washington has had to take a back seat to sophomore star Dorial Beckham-Green, but is a talented player in his own right.  Missouri boasted one of the biggest and strongest receiving corps in the country and it allowed them to make big plays regardless of which quarterback was throwing them the ball.  Washington did not have a ton of catches this year but was able to pick up a lot of yardage and scored touchdowns on better than one out of every passes he caught as a senior.

Going to the NFL, Washington is a height, weight, speed prospect that has a lot of upside because he is still raw as a technician.  He flashes the ability to use good technique but is not consistent enough and ends up falling into bad habits too often.  Washington needs to be a better route runner, more confident hands catcher, and do a better job of setting up his blocks, but if a team sticks with him and can develop him, he could develop into a terrific contributor.  He projects as a day three pick but could end up going higher than some might expect if he really lights up workouts as teams can get mesmerized by impressive physical talent.

Vitals & Build

Washington is listed at 6’4” 205lbs with a long, lean build.  He has a decent amount of strength and can demonstrate some solid functional strength at times.  Washington has good feet and quickness with notable long speed and solid body control.  He does have some issues when it comes to getting low and sinking his hips, looking stiff at times.  Washington can continue to add strength without losing any athleticism, but he could really benefit from getting more flexible, especially with his hips.

Route Running & Technique

Washington’s stance and release are clunky.  He is not really positioned well to fire off of the ball cleanly and too often, he will come off of the snap with a hop step, which is slow and ineffective.  Washington uses that to set up what he wants to do, but if he just eliminated it, he could put the opponent on the defensive and make them react as opposed to letting them decide where he is going to go.

When it comes to running routes, Washington shows a lot of flashes of great things he will do, but then does not do them consistently.  There are examples when he does a great job using his arm to keep opponents out of his body and arm bars them from the play allowing him to run by and get open deep.  Not only does he have long arms, but he has shown pretty good pop when it comes to jarring the opponent with a punch.  Washington has also shown he knows how to dip his shoulder and lean on the opponent to work back to his line and stack.  Then there are stretches of the game where he does not do either one and just tries to outrun the defensive back with varying results.

Washington is at his best working on the outside of the hashes and selling vertical routes or making a quick stop to sit down in holes in the zone.  In spite of the fact he needs to do a better job of sinking his hips, he has shown remarkable ability to stop with almost no wasted movement, turn around and be open for a pass.

The issue with Washington’s hips tends to show up in the fact they do not run him on many routes that ask him to make dramatic cuts.  The times he does, he is too high in his cuts and has trouble exploding with his plant foot, making it easier for opponents to stay on him.  Again, he will occasionally flash the ability to do it, but is incredibly inconsistent in that respect.

The Tigers use decoy routes in an offense with few reads as well as using some routes to run off defenders for running plays.  Washington is obvious when doing it as he does not run the routes hard and does a poor job making defenders believe them.  For example, running a quick out to run a defender off of the run, Washington did not run all that hard or even look back at the quarterback, so the defender was tipped off, diagnosed run and was able to help make the play.  This is a poor habit that needs to be eliminated.

Washington shows ability, but needs to build on the flashes he shows into good habits he uses consistently to create separation and get open.  With his combination of speed and length, he should be able to have fewer contested catches than he has had this season.

Hands

Washington is far too comfortable being a body catcher and does not use his natural length advantage unless he needs it.  On passes that are put on him, he lets them into his body, which gives opponents opportunities knock the ball down before it gets there and negates his size advantage aside from shielding opponents out with his body.

He has shown the ability to reach out and grab the ball when it is away from his body, showing off his length.  This is a rarer occurrence than it should be and makes him far easier to defend by opponents as a result.  If he can work to be a more confident hands catcher, his combination of speed and length could allow him to become a nice player, but until that happens, he is selling himself short.

Run After Catch

Washington has the ability to be a good run after catch threat because he does have good long speed.  The problem for Washington is that he has trouble creating separation, so he is limited in the opportunities he has after the catch.  For the most part, he is either winning a foot race for the deep ball or catching a bubble screen and trying to make a play.

Washington has the feet to make quick moves when it comes to shifting in and out to make the occasional opponent miss.  He has the ability to use a nasty stiff arm or arm bar to keep opponents away from him as they make tackles and if he has a lane, he has the speed to make it count.  Along with catching the ball better, he needs to make the adjustment from pass catcher to receiver more quickly and smoothly to make him look faster with the ball in his hands.

Blocking

Like with most areas of his game, this is an area that tends to hit or miss.  When it comes to setting up blocks, Washington is relatively average.  He can overrun opponents or end up stopping and setting up far away and allowing them to dictate the action.  In that scenario, he gives them room to gain momentum and power while trying to react and block like a pass block.  He is able to get away with it at times, but it is difficult to pull it off consistently because it gives the defender so much of an advantage.

When Washington establishes the block, he is effective.  He uses his strong upper body and long arms to just beat opponents up and keeps his legs moving to drive them down the field.  In these situations, he shows good effort, keeps driving through the whistle and shows a nice mean streak, looking to dominate the opponent and send a message, occasionally getting some pancakes in the process.

System Fit

Washington seems to be best suited to play in a vertical style offense that will allow him to live outside the hashes for the most part and stress the defense down the field.  He is able to scare opponents deep to open up opportunities underneath and provides a big target.  If he can do a better job with sinking his hips, he has the feet and body control to play in a more horizontal scheme.

Washington looks like he should be a third or more likely fourth wide receiver on the roster.  His triangle numbers will make him attractive and he offers some potential value on special teams, but he does need to continue developing his technique to be a regular contributor.  Washington looks like he can be an occasional weapon that can stretch the field and make the occasional big play but he has some long term potential if he can keep refining his game.

Special Teams

Washington has experience as a gunner on special teams and does a nice job getting down the field.  He has the speed to get down the field and has shown awareness with tracking the ball down and preventing it from getting into the end zone.  It certainly does not hurt him that he is as big as he is as he is attacking down the sideline to cover punts.

NFL Comparison

Washington’s game is similar to that of Stephen Hill of the New York Jets.  Hill was drafted in the second round almost entirely off of his extraordinary physical tools but needed to basically learn how to play the position in the NFL.  Washington may not be as physically gifted as Hill, but he will come into the league as a terrific height, weight, speed prospect who will need to work to refine his technique and if he can do it, he could pay off in a big way.

Draft Projection

L’Damian Washington has a nice combination of height, weight and speed that should stand out when he gets to workouts.  He needs to work to refine his ability as a route runner and pass catcher, so he can take full advantage of all of his natural gifts.  If a team is willing to work with him, he has long term potential and could be able to make an immediate impact as a third or fourth wide receiver.  Washington projects as a day three pick but could be the type of player that causes a team to reach and take him earlier because of his physical talent.

Some of the film used for this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com

Tags: 2014 NFL Draft L'Damian Washington Missouri Tigers Football Wide Receivers