5 toughest tight ends on Bengals 2023 schedule

  • Three tight ends on this list play in the AFC North
  • The top two spots seem pretty obvious

Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) catches a pass
Dec 12, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) catches a pass / Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Darnell Washington

Rookie tight end Darnell Washington will present an incredible challenge to all defenses the Pittsburgh Steelers face this season.

Most think of the rookie tight end as a blocker first and there is a good reason for this, as he is an outstanding run and pass blocker. At 6’7", 275 pounds, Washington will be bigger and stronger than most pass rushers across from him to pass block when the time comes for that to happen. 

Washington has elite athleticism for a tight end. He can reach and wall off linebackers and defensive backs with ease then he will use his size and strength to crush them. 

However, for some reason, Washington is an underrated pass catcher. He was not the primary option in the passing game at Georgia, but that was not because he was an incapable pass catcher.

Washington showed he is a capable pass catcher who is excellent with the ball in his hands after the catch. This part of his game will be on display, as he should prove to be a superb security blanket for second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett.  

Some will say that a rookie should not be on this list but they would be wrong. What Washington did in college will transfer nicely to the pros. Also, to keep defenses on their toes, there is a chance he will get more targets with the Steelers than he did with the Bulldogs. 

Pittsburgh finished 16th in rushing yards last season. They will look to improve upon that ranking to help protect their young quarterback. Also, running back Najee Harris has rushed for over 1,000 yards in his first two seasons in the NFL. An incredible blocker like Washington will be a welcomed addition for Pickett and Harris. It will also benefit the next name on this list.