UVA’s Washington impressing NFL scouts at Shrine Bowl workouts

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

If you listened to our “Jerry & Jerry” shows during football season, I was often asked what the future of Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington looked like.

My answer was always that Washington is a sure-fire draft choice, and now we’re getting some confirmation that NFL analysts really like what they see from the Cavaliers’ single-season record-breaker.

Washington has been impressive at the East-West Shrine Bowl practices in Frisco, Texas. In fact, some of the analysts have the UVA wideout as the No. 1 standout in those practice sessions.

“Washington has been the main attraction during most of this week’s practices,” wrote Chad Reuter, draft analyst for NFL News. “His quick moves and acceleration into and out of his breaks were on full display Monday; defenders are forced to attack him at the line (which isn’t easy) or simply watch him separate.

“[Washington] won inside position on Pitt cornerback M.J. Devonshire on a goal-line play with a shake off the snap, making an easy touchdown for his quarterback. While measuring just a tad over 5-foot-8, Washington scored after high-pointing a pass with strong hands on Saturday, displaying an all-around game that could induce teams to project him as an immediate starter in the slot.”

Virginia fans could vouch for that last comment after watching opposing defenses fruitlessly unable to shut him down this past season. Washington finished No. 1 in the nation in receptions per game with 9.2 over 12 contests.

He dropped to No. 4 in the country in receiving yards due to the 12 games since Virginia did not make the postseason. The three receivers that finished above him in that ranking all played between 13 and 15 games, adding to their totals.

Washington hauled in 110 passes for 1,426 yards and 9 touchdowns for the Cavaliers.

Another analyst, Trevor Sikkema, wrote of Washington: “UVA Football WR Malik Washington has been dominant during the early portion of Shrine Bowl practice. Quick releases, consistent separation, and just made an incredible diving, full body turn catch for a touchdown. No surprise from his 2023 production tape.”

Khari Thompson: “Malik Washington (Virginia) has been a problem in 1-on-1s so far out of the slot. Not afraid to mix it up at the top of the route.”

Another analyst wrote: “It’s been the Malik Washington show so far in the West practice. Taulia Tagovailoa (Maryland) has also been a efficient point guard in 7 on 7 drills.”

Yet another rated Washington the No. 1 performer out of the eight players that impressed him out of the Shine Bowl practices.

Last year’s Shrine Bowl had 10 players taken within the top 125 picks in the draft, including Ravens’ wide receiver Zay Flowers and Rams’ defensive tackle Kobie Turner.

This year’s Shrine Bowl will take place on Thursday at 8 p.m. (Eastern) on the NFL Network.