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Could Ravens Target Former Oklahoma State Receiver James Washington?

February 6, 2018
Few, if any, wide receivers in the 2018 NFL Draft were as productive throughout the course of their college careers as James Washington was at Oklahoma State, as he caught 226 passes for 4,472 yards and 39 touchdowns during his four years in Stillwater, Okla.

He also earned rave reviews for his work at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., in late January. He graded out well for his performance in one-on-one drills and his speed, and he was named one of the top practice players during the week. 

Washington joined Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 31 to discuss his experience at the Senior Bowl.

"It's a lot of friendly competition, especially between me and [wide receiver] Marcell Ateman here this past week," Washington said. "Me and him have been competing since we've been at Oklahoma State together. It's a lot of fun. You learn from different guys. Guys are teaching techniques that they've learned during the season that's helped them succeed, and I was showing guys my stuff. We're just going back and forth with trading our knowledge, just helping each other get to that goal that we want."

For Washington, the Senior Bowl was a reward for the finest season of his college career in 2017, for which he won the Fred Biletnikoff Award as the top receiver in college football. Past winners include Randy Moss, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree and former Oklahoma State Cowboy James Blackmon.

Washington caught 74 balls for 1,549 yards -- good for 20.9 yards per catch -- and 13 touchdowns in 2017, all of which were career highs. Washington had 815 "deep" receiving yards and eight deep touchdowns, which were first and second in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), according to Pro Football Focus

He also had nine games with more than 100 receiving yards, which includes a 235-yard performance against Baylor in October. 

But Washington is dogged by questions about the context of his production. Oklahoma State scored 39.5, 38.6 and 45 points per game from 2015-17, with quarterback Mason Rudolph completing better than 62 percent of his throws during each season. Rudolph threw for nearly 5,000 yards in 2017 out of a quarterback-friendly, up-tempo, spread style that stretched the field and utilized run-pass options. 

"It's not a system offense because if you're able to learn offense and prevail in any offense, then that just shows that you're able to be coachable and you have talent and then you know you're a team player," Washington said. "The whole 'player of the system' deal has been out the window for me for awhile."

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said Feb. 2 that his team "will be exploring all options in free agency and the draft for targets" for quarterback Joe Flacco. Washington will presumably be one target the Ravens consider toward the top of the draft, though Washington's size (about 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds at the Senior Bowl) could give some teams pause. 

But his production can't be ignored -- Washington ranks second among draft-eligible receivers on CBS -- and he wants to show teams something else about him.

"I just want to show guys that I have great character," Washington said. "You're not going to find anything bad on me, and every time that you see me, you just get a whiff of a guy that wants to work hard all the time, and you're always going to get his best, and he's accountable on and off the field."

A native of Stamford, Texas, Washington was an "agribusiness major with an option in farm and ranch management," according to his Oklahoma State profile. He explained why he majored in that.

"My dad's a farmer, so growing up; I worked on the farm a lot. As a kid, big tractors and animals and stuff, that's something that you grow fond to," Washington said. "Especially being able to just ride on a tractor with your dad at a young age, it's a lot of fun."

He added: "It's something that I've actually planned on since I was probably going into freshman year of high school, just wanting to be a farmer/rancher. I have buddies, we've talked about just kind of conjoining in together and having some big, successful hunting ranch and cattle ranch. … It's almost like a dude ranch."

To hear more about Washington's Senior Bowl experience and how he met the quarterback he caught scores of passes from, listen here: 

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Oklahoma State Athletics