"As Rashad Washington's cell phone buzzed continually, his father, Jimmy Washington, escaped to the front porch of their south Wichita home.
He sat down, took a deep breath and let the sunshine not blocked by his New York Jets hat wash over him. He was a visual representation of what the entire family was experiencing: relief.
Washington, a former strong safety at Kansas State, was projected by most to go in or around the fifth round of this weekend's NFL Draft. Instead, his name had still not been announced as the seventh, and final, round began.
Finally, with the 35th pick of the round and 236th of the weekend, the Jets ended the Washington family's tension by taking Rashad, a former All-State selection at Southeast.
"We had four or five teams call the day before," Jimmy Washington said from that porch, still exasperated shortly after the big moment. "I never thought it would take that long. But we're thrilled it finally worked out that way."
No one was taking it harder than Rashad himself. His mother, Marsha, had been trying to get him to eat since before Sunday's portion of the draft began at 10 a.m. But Washington couldn't bring himself to do it.
He was too intense, never thinking it would be nearly six hours before he was drafted.
It took so long, teams started inquiring about bringing Washington in as an undrafted free agent. The Titans called, saying they might take Washington in the seventh round but wanted him in Tennessee either way. The Bills and 49ers also offered the free-agent route.
Then the Jets called shortly before their three consecutive compensatory picks.
"They said my name was already on the card for one of those picks," Washington said. "It really was relief more than anything."
Washington will leave Thursday for his first trip to New York City. But more than checking out any sights, he said his focus has already become making the team.
At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, Washington started the last two seasons at strong safety after beginning his career at K-State as a running back. He was a special teams standout during his entire career, which includes blocking four punts last season, and believes that should help his chances in the NFL.
"He's a big, good-looking guy in a uniform," said Jesse Kaye, the Jets' director of college scouting. "Interestingly, when you evaluate him on film, you think maybe he can give you a little more or do a little more of this because he's very impressive physically. But at the end of the day, you look at the stats and he's real productive.
"In that seventh round, we really hit on young guys that lead to depth."
Washington was especially happy to be drafted considering the bad fortune for his former teammates. The Sporting News had six K-State players in its mock draft, and The Huddle Report had seven. Instead, only two were selected, meaning ex-Wildcats defensive end Andrew Shull, fullback Travis Wilson, cornerback Randy Jordan and linebackers Bryan Hickman and Josh Buhl will have to pursue their NFL dreams through free agency."
Very shocking. This guy was something like the 9th rated Safety on all the latest publications and on my own personal board. The reason was his physical gifts. They also said he was excellent in the things that a safety should do well in. I didn't understand why he lasted so long (Jason Shivers either), but I'm glad the Jets got him. He'll eventually be our starting free or strong safety.
I think the key to this guy is that he has the size and athletic ability to provide depth. He's still learning how to play safety - let alone defense (he started as a RB). I hope they convert him into CB and he becomes the second coming of Marcus Coleman.
[quote][i]Originally posted by wickedtwisted+Apr 26 2004, 10:02 PM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (wickedtwisted @ Apr 26 2004, 10:02 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin--NYJFan84[/i]@Apr 26 2004, 06:28 PM
[b] If he works hard enough during training camp maybe he can actually beat Tongue for the starting safety spot. [/b][/quote]
Or not? [/b][/quote]
Not in 2004. If any rookie starts, it'll be Strait. Unlikely to see 2 rookies start this year. But he could be in the rotation, although Tongue should still get the bulk of the playing time.
I'm hoping someone pushes Mickens out. He's a nice guy, but I think his skills are limited, and he has not done well when he was needed as a starter.