JACKSONVILLE – This is a critical time, and a huge opportunity.
As Jaguars rookie wide receiver Parker Washington sees it, one of the best parts about his first NFL offseason is the players around him.
"I'm a player that loves to learn and get things from other players," Washington said during 2023 Rookie Minicamp this past weekend at TIAA Bank Field, adding of the Jaguars' receiving corps: "It's a really veteran room and I'm excited to get the opportunity."
All indications are Washington is the sort of player to take advantage of the situation.
"He's just a phenomenal kid," Penn State co-offensive coordinator Ty Howle recently said of Washington, the No. 185 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. "You knew he was going to come to work, and he worked his butt off, too. He was a no-ego guy as well."
Washington (5-feet-10, 204 pounds), who played three seasons for Penn State, caught 146 career passes for 1,920 yards and 12 touchdowns. He caught 46 passes for 611 yards and two touchdowns in 2022 after catching 64 passes for 820 yards and four touchdowns in 2021.
"He wanted to help Penn State win," Howle said. "He had great relationships with his teammates. He was a quieter guy. He didn't say a ton, but he was a locker-room glue guy. He had great relationships with guys in the receiver room, in the offensive line room, the quarterbacks room.
"He was a great kid off the field and on."
Those elements were evident immediately. An honorable mention All-Big 10 selection in 2022, Washington caught a career-high six touchdown passes on 36 receptions with 489 yards in 2020, when when he became the first true freshman since 2015 to start PSU's regular-season opener.
"I think Parker translates really well [to the NFL]," Howle said. "He played early in his career, which just goes to show his mental ability as well. Obviously, the physical ability's there, but mentally he was able to come in as freshman, learn the offense and play right away and showcase his skillset."
That skillset included what Howle called "elite change of direction."
"He makes some crazy catches," Howle said. "He has great hands. You throw it in his direction, he's going to be able to get a hand on it. He has really good body control: Really good lower body, strong lower body, being able to run through tackles. He has lightning-in-a-bottle change of direction."
Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson agreed.
"When you watch his college film, he's exciting," Pederson said. "He's electric. He's a big-play-type guy."
Pederson shortly after the draft discussed Washington's speed, athleticism and ability to stretch the field – also discussing his ability to work the middle of the field. That's a skillset similar to Jaguars wide receiver Christian Kirk, who caught 84 passes for 1,108 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022.
"I think being behind a guy like Christian and understanding how Christian operates is going to be great for Parker to be able to see – and really how [Jaguars wide receivers] Zay [Jones] and Calvin [Ridley] operate," Pederson said. "Having a young guy like this with the ability to create some plays offensively just gives us another weapon, another target for Trevor [Lawrence] and the quarterbacks to throw to.
"We're excited to get him going and see what he can do."
That's an excitement Washington shares – and he said during rookie minicamp he also looks forward to working with Kirk, a prototypical slot receiver who excelled in multiple roles in Pederson's versatile offense last season. Kirk tweeted his congratulations to Washington on draft weekend, and Washington said he looks forward to working with the veteran.
"Having the opportunity to play in a receiver room with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Calvin Ridley – it's exciting," he said, adding of Kirk: "It's just a great opportunity to learn from a veteran, somebody that's been in the game for a minute now. I'm excited, just ready to work and him reaching out made me excited.
"I get an opportunity to learn, so I'm just excited to have that. I just want to be ready to put in work and if they need my help, I'm ready to put that help out there. I'm just going to continue to sharpen my craft and I'm just ready to go."
View top photos of Jaguars players throughout rookie minicamp practice at TIAA Bank Field.