MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It didn’t take long for Keith Washington to realize this wasn’t going to be the offseason leading into this weekend’s NFL draft he expected it to be.
After two seasons at West Virginia, Washington proved to be one of the top cornerbacks in the Big 12 and worked his way into the NFL conversation. After showing out for scouts at the East-West Shrine Game in January in Tampa, Washington thought his next stop was the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
However, with 61 other defensive backs getting an invite, one never came for Washington.
“I thought for sure I was going to get a combine,” he told The Dominion Post. “I was with Michael Johnson Performance down there in McKinney, Texas, working with the combine group. I realized a couple days before I wasn’t going to get an invite. I was disappointed a little bit at first, talking with friends of mine in the league who I look up to, I realized it’s not about combine invites and stuff like that. It’s about making a 53-man roster and I just got back into grind mode.”
Washington was in West Virginia when the news broke that WVU’s Pro Day was wiped out due to COVID-19. With another plan to show out for scouts foiled, Washington’s agent with Icon Sports Consulting flew him back to his home state of Alabama to Birmingham, where Washington made his own workout happen.
With a film crew involved and following strict NFL guidelines, Washington and three others went through position drills, 40-yard dash, short shuttle, L-drill and broad jump.
After his workout was finished, the talk was about Washington’s 40-yard dash time of 4.38, which would have put him third among defensive backs clocked at the combine. While at the East-West Shrine Game, he was asked by scouts if he would be able to run a 4.50, which drew a smile to Washington’s face.
“It kind of shocked me that they would think I couldn’t run a 4.50,” Washington said. “My whole life, I’ve been a fast guy and that 40-time is legit. You can put on the film and break out the video. (NFL) teams have that video. If you still want to question my speed, turn on the game film. There aren’t many times people ran by me in the Big 12 at West Virginia.”
Washington transferred from Michigan to WVU and enrolled at his new school in January 2018. He hovered near the top of the depth chart before taking hold of a starting cornerback spot a few games into the season.
In his career at West Virginia (21 games), Washington had 18 pass breakups and six interceptions. He missed three games last season with an injury, but was still named second team All-Big 12.
Listed just shy of 6-foot-1 and weighing 183 pounds, Washington has been able to stay in shape through the pandemic thanks in large part to what his dad, Keith Washington Sr., set up over a decade ago.
“I’ve been using a gym in my garage my dad made for me when I was 10 years old,” Washington said.
Included are a bench and boxing bag, but Washington has also been able to utilize the local soccer field at his alma mater, Prattville High School, to work on conditioning drills.
While many NFL teams, including a few recently he hadn’t heard from before, have been in contact, especially over the last few days, Washington doesn’t care where he lands.
All he wants is a shot.
“It’s the ultimate goal to play at the highest level and if the opportunity comes up, I’m going to for sure celebrate it,” Washington said. “But I’m for sure going to flip that switch and get into grind mode.”