Bump & Stacy: Why Seahawks’ TEs are worth keeping an eye on

May 19, 2023, 9:56 AM

Seahawks Colby Parkinson...

Seahawks TE Colby Parkinson reacts after a play against the Falcons on Sept. 25, 2022. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

There’s a position group we’re not talking about enough this offseason for the Seattle Seahawks.

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The Seahawks added a new cornerback with their highly-anticipated No. 5 overall pick, which brings another name to a stacked secondary. All eyes have been on improvements along the defensive line, while a second first-round pick, Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba, added a high-profile name to a position group that already commands attention in Seattle. Finding a new center, seeing where Geno Smith can take the offense, wondering how much Bobby Wagner has left in a new linebacker group – all have been discussed at length this offseason (and will continue to, so long as the Seahawks await an answer).

But there’s another position group that isn’t getting a ton of attention. It makes sense; it wasn’t a particularly serious area of need for Seattle. It’s also a position that, frankly, boasted neither the names nor production of other groups – at least in more recent years.

It’s time to talk about the tight ends.

Tight end usage improved last year after falling off post-Jimmy Graham (and before you said he did nothing, he’s still the last tight end to finish a season with over 500 receiving yards). Three tight ends finished with 300 or more receiving yards — the first time ever in the Carroll era — and the position group as a whole combined for 10 touchdowns.

Whether or not that yardage increases remains to be seen, especially with even more pass catchers and potentially fewer attempts to go around in 2023. But Seattle’s efforts to improve the run game can diversify the offense in more ways than one, and tight ends can be a big part of that.

“If you can’t tell, I’m excited about this offense,” Michael Bumpus said during Thursday’s Bump and Stacy. “If the Seahawks can get this run game going, why can the tight ends open everything up? Because when you get in your two-tight end sets, even your three-tight ends sets, the defense has to match up personnel-wise. They’re not going to walk out there in a nickel or a dime. They’re going to come out there in their base defense, and you’re either going to have a safety on a tight end, or if they do come out in a nickel look, you have your nickelback on a tight end.

“When you get to these run formations, you show them run, you show them run, you show them run, and then you release a tight end. You down block and you release tight ends. What that makes for is big plays. Because if you’re gashing them – if Ken Walker is getting 5.5 a pop – linebackers have to respect it and bite down. Tight ends can sell the run and release up the seam, and Geno Smith has shown he can hit those tight ends up the seam.”

While Noah Fant led the charge last season, Bumpus has high expectations for another tight end.

“I think Colby Parkinson can take the biggest step,” Bumpus said. “He’s the biggest tight end you have out there, he’s put on some weight, if he becomes a great blocker he can sell the run, especially in the red zone. That’s going to allow for Geno to hit him in the seam, send him to the back of the red zone, and use the height that he has.”

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Bump & Stacy: Why Seahawks’ TEs are worth keeping an eye on