When the Denver Broncos selected Sanford in the fifth round of the NFL draft over Monterrey Washington, everyone asked, “Who?” Even the most ardent tsars, including here mile high partyhaving to scramble to figure out who Washington is.
Typically, no-name players drafted in the middle of Day 3 are generally considered reachable by the draft community. There will only be enough time to reveal the truth, but for now, the jury is out of Washington, as most believe the Broncos could have salvaged the draft pick and signed him as a college free agent afterward.
After the draft, new Broncos special teams coordinator Dwayne Stokes sounds like the driving force behind Washington’s draft pick. Stokes, however, may be the most senior coach, but it was wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni who brought the diminutive Samford outside to his attention.
“Honestly, Coach ‘Z’ (Zach Azani) brought him up,” Stokes said during his rookie minicamp. “Coach ‘Z’ said, ‘I have a catcher that I like. He’s a small slot receiver. Would you remind to see him as a returner? Obviously, I put duct tape.”
Coach, what did you see when you taped Washington?
“I know there’s a lot of Florida graduates out there, so I apologize,” Stokes said. “But any time you’ve got a kid in Sanford that’s on production and a big project that gets your attention, right? So coach ‘Z’ brought him here, and I went to see him, and I said, ‘This Children are gifted.’”
Without a doubt, Washington came out on top against Florida. He totaled 322 yards (124 receiving, 19 rushing, 179 returning) and had three touchdowns. When going up against the SEC juggernaut, the return code of nearly 200 yards is what really caught Stokes’ attention.
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However, Washington owes his position coach to bring the topic to Stokes. For a fifth-round pick, Washington seemed rightfully set to take over the Broncos’ punt and kicker return duties, but nothing was handed to him. The rookie certainly doesn’t feel like he’s “successful” in the NFL.
“I don’t think I’ve done that yet,” Washington said. “Yeah, I’m here, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Honestly, I’m hungry. Every day I have to prove to myself that I like it. I’m definitely not there yet.”
With Washington on board, Stokes isn’t the only coordinator drooling over how to use his speed and explosiveness. Offensive coordinator Justin Outten has a plan infiltrating his mind.
“It’s more of a speed-type thing — you can sweep the floor with him,” Outten said. “You can use him [end]-around. You can use him on the field and stand out from the defense. For him, it’s just an assessment of how much of the script itself he can handle at this point. Over time, I think it will come. “
While the draft picks in the league may be disappointed with Washington’s pick, the Broncos are clearly happy to have him and expect the rookie to make an impact.
“He’s just a different element of the explosive mindset because he’s just a different body in that room,” Outten said. “It’s never a bad thing to be different. It’s always good to find packages for people like that. As much as they can handle.”
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