UVA’s Washington picked in 6th round by Dolphins

By Jerry Ratcliffe

Photo: UVA Athletics

Mike McDaniel’s reaction to drafting Virginia’s Malik Washington in the sixth round of Saturday’s NFL Draft showed just how much the Miami Dolphins head coach was excited about the pick.

As soon as the selection was announced, McDaniel raised a fist in the air, then did a fist pump (see accompanying video below) when Washington’s name was announced as the No. 184 overall pick in the draft. While most draft experts expected Washington to go much higher, Miami was happy that the former Cavaliers’ record-breaking receiver was still around.

The Dolphins need a third receiving option for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and Washington fits the profile as a slot receiver at 5-foot-8, an explosive 42.5-inch vertical, great hands and an ability to get open and run after the catch. His 4.47 speed isn’t considered an asset at the NFL level, but his other skills make up for it.

“The part of Malik Washington we like the most is there are some players in that room he will have to compete against, and we identified him as a person who would be up to the challenge,” McDaniel said.

Field Yates of ESPN said of Washington: “[At times] Malik Washington was unstoppable. Set an ACC single-season record with 110 catches. I understand he has diminutive size, but this guy is tough, will break tackles, will beat you in the hole. He’s probably going to end up playing in the slot.”

ESPN’s Matt Miller said, “Malik Washington will take the top off the defense. A track team they’re building in Miami. I never want to compare anyone to Tyreek Hill, but you can use [Washington] in a lot of the same ways.”

Washington led the FBS with a Virginia and ACC record of 110 receptions last season, ranked fourth with a school record 1,426 receiving yards (13.9 per catch), and was ninth in FBS with 1,706 all-purpose yards, while also leading the Cavaliers with 9 TD catches as an All-ACC performer.

The transfer from Northwestern accomplished all those feats while working with two quarterbacks, one a true freshman, and put up huge numbers even though most UVA opponents game-planned to contain him.