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Evaluating TCU safety Ar’Darius Washington’s NFL Draft destinations

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Several mock drafts online have the redshirt sophomore listed anywhere from the second round to the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

TCU weak safety Ar’Darius Washington emerged onto the scene after a breakout 2019 season, where he was named the Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year and received Freshman All-American honors from The Athletic and FWAA. With that success came NFL Draft prospects, and with a chance to be an early-round selection. The redshirt sophomore has chosen to forego the remainder of his eligibility and pursue his professional career.

Washington didn’t see much time in 2018, but he became a starter and played weak safety at a high level for the Horned Frogs in 2019, finishing second among all freshmen with five interceptions while adding seven passes defended. Injuries slowed Washington’s pace in 2020, where he recorded five passes defensed and 37 total tackles. Washington has been a Pro Football Focus favorite over the last two seasons, ranking second among all safeties behind only teammate Trevon Moehrig, who projects to be a first-round draft pick.

Washington will be one of the smallest safeties in the 2021 NFL Draft, standing 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 179 pounds. However, players including Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Antoine Winfield Jr. and Kansas City Chiefs star Tyrann Mathieu recently showcased during the Big Game that small safeties can have dynamic impacts on their respective teams. Winfield was a second-rounder in 2020, while Mathieu was a third-rounder in 2013.

Mock drafts have listed Washington anywhere from the second round to the fourth round. Specifically, PFF lists Washington as a second-round prospect. What could intrigue scouts about Washington is his coverage ability, making him a potential fit as either a free safety or a nickelback, an extra defender in obvious passing situations. NFL.com writer Chad Reuter slots Washington to the New Orleans Saints with the 106th overall pick, the last in Round 3.

Additionally, WalterFootball.com projects Washington to the Dallas Cowboys in Round 3 with the 75th overall selection. The Cowboys could select Washington and move on from former 2017 sixth-rounder Xavier Woods, who will be a free agent this offseason. The Saints will likely address their secondary as well, with both Marcus Williams and P.J. Williams entering free agency. Several mock drafts have lined Moehrig up with New Orleans.

Pro Football Network’s Nick Farabaugh thinks Washington will go to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first pick in Round 4. Jacksonville doesn’t currently carry much free safety talent on its roster outside Jarrod Wilson, who’s a free agent after 2021. Washington could serve a depth role before earning a greater opportunity to compete next year.

Washington figures to be the second TCU player taken in the 2021 NFL Draft behind Moehrig, but with limited mock drafts beyond the first round currently available, it’s tough to truly project where the talented safety prospect could land. Whichever team lands Washington will be adding a instinctive, fluid player who showcased during the 2019 season that he could play like one of the best safeties in all of college football.