In continuing our summer football coverage, we are counting down Northwestern’s Top 10 most important players in 2022. We’ve created a composite averaging the rankings of each of our staffer’s respective lists, revealing who we believe to be the most crucial to the Wildcat’s upcoming success.
However, we know that is up for interpretation. For some, it could mean the value of one player over his backup. It could mean players in crucial roles. It could also mean players who have underperformed and need to step up.
Only one thing is known: no two lists from our staff members are the same. That’s why for each player, we’ll have at least one member break down their placement for the aforementioned player.
No. 6, WR Malik Washington
Sarah Effress (7)
Last year’s pass offense was spearheaded by Malik Washington and Stephon Robinson Jr., the latter of whom lead the team in receiving with 625 yards on his way to NFL free agency. Now, it’s Washington who has the chance to take over Mike Bajakian’s receiving corps. Last year, the senior line up out wide and in the slot, earning him 578 receiving yards for an average of 13 yards per catch and two scores.
Though his stat line from last year barely placed him in the top 15 among receivers conference-wide, Washington displayed some serious grit on a few standout plays last season (his stellar score against Rutgers and rising deep catch versus Purdue, for one) which, coupled with his relative consistency throughout 2021, boost optimism surrounding what he can do in 2022.
Of course, a lot of what Washington can do in his position is limited by whoever takes over QB1 and, it doesn’t help his case that the RB room is one of the Wildcats’ strongest this year — both of which are reasons I didn’t place Washington in my top five. However, he has found a way to match up against some strong secondaries already, and hopefully, with more consistency at QB, we could see Washington take on a slightly bigger role in the offense next season and bring home some more scores.