DANNY AND GALLANT

Schneider: Seahawks tight end room gets even better with rookie picks

May 1, 2020, 11:54 AM | Updated: May 7, 2020, 12:42 pm
Seahawks TE Colby Parkinson...
Stanford TE Colby Parkinson was a fourth-round pick by the Seahawks. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Seahawks added two intriguing prospects to arguably one of their best position groups during the draft when they selected tight ends Colby Parkinson and Stephen Sullivan on the final day. Parkinson played collegiately at Stanford and was a fourth-round pick while Sullivan played at LSU and was taken in the seventh round.

Seahawks draft takeaways: What we learned from a scout

The young duo joins a loaded tight end room that already figured to be one of the best positional units on the Seahawks.

Seattle added veteran Greg Olsen, who has been among the league’s best tight ends since entering the league in 2007 and was also able to re-sign fan favorite Luke Willson, who returned to the Seahawks partway through 2019 after stints with the Detroit Lions and the Oakland (now Las Vegas) Raiders.

Will Dissly, a 2018 fourth-round pick, has shown the potential to be one of the league’s best all-around tight ends due to his elite blocking and his pass-catching ability and great chemistry with Russell Wilson. He was among the league leaders in catches, yards and touchdowns for tight ends when he suffered a season-ending injury early in the year, ending his season at six games. In two seasons, he’s played in just 10 games.

Maybe the biggest surprise of the Seahawks’ 2019 season was the emergence of Jacob Hollister as Russell Wilson’s third target. Seattle acquired Hollister from the New England Patriots last offseason and he started the season on the practice squad. He played in 11 regular season games and ended the year with 349 yards and three touchdowns.

Now, Parkinson and Sullivan enter the mic and both are very intriguing prospects.

Parkinson, a 2019 Second-Team All-Pac-12 selection, is very tall (6-7) and is extremely athletic at 252 pounds. During his sophomore season, Parkinson caught 29 passes, recorded 485 yards and had seven touchdowns. During his final year at Stanford as a junior, he caught 48 passes for 589 yards and one touchdown.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider was clearly enamored with his fourth-round pick, as evidenced in his conversation with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant.

“The frame. He still has a huge upside and his hands are ridiculous,” he said of the traits that drew him to the Stanford tight end. “We think he has a chance to develop into a better blocker. He has the frame to develop.”

In addition to being a big target, he is fast and has great body control, which could lead to him being a mismatch for opposing defenses in the near future.

“This is a guy who’s 6-7 and a quarter running 4.7 (seconds in the 40-yard dash) and getting his shoulders around real quick, his head around real quick, has very good body control, really good adjusting to the ball,” Schneider said. “Like I said, his hands are ridiculous. I don’t think he had a drop this year.”

Schneider said Parkinson’s physical traits aren’t the only attributes that jump out, either.

“He’s a well-rounded individual. The person is off the chains,” he said. “He’s still a young, young guy and was raised really well and (has) great work ethic.”

Sullivan was someone Seattle clearly wanted as well as they traded a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins to get back into the draft in the seventh round.

He’s 6-5 and weighs around 250 pounds and was clocked at 4.66 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine this year.He also has extremely long arms, measuring at 35 and 3/8 inches.

Sullivan was a top wide receiver prospect while in high school, but moved to tight end at LSU, where his junior season was his best year, catching 23 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns while starting one game.

Sullivan being drafted is a great story, as he grew up experiencing both poverty and homelessness and both of his parents were arrested while he was growing up. Like many, his escape was sports.

Even though Sullivan was a seventh-round pick, his selection went viral after his draft call was put online.

Schneider said that calling players to let them know they’re being drafted is one of the best parts of the job, and that calling Sullivan was really special.

“Sullivan was a guy who basically he’d agreed (to sign) with another team (as an undrafted free agent), so we were able to get back into the draft and put him on our team,” he said. “He was caught off guard. He’s just a great kid and has obviously been through a ton, but there was a little bit of a scramble going on there right at the end and I was just really excited for the kid. It was really fun”

Always compete

In addition to Parkinson and Sullivan, Schneider and the Seahawks also added two tight ends in undrafted rookie free agency, meaning Seattle has eight tight ends on the roster. As you’d expect from a Pete Carroll-led football team, that means the competition is on.

“We’re going to acquire as many good players, regardless of position, as we possibly can and you’ll see us continue to do that as we shape this roster,” Schneider told Danny and Gallant.

This rookie class will be in an interesting situation as facilities are closed and travel is restricted due to the coronavirus. Teams will be using conducting remote practices via video calls.

Because of this, draft prospects who were ready to go about their business as pros were even more critical than previous years.

“In a unique year, we’ve focused on people that don’t have to have their hands held as much as others would in previous years, so you’re not necessarily throwing a dart at a guy that has a really good upside or is just a height/weight/speed guy,” Schneider said. “Really, those types of players were eliminated based on the fact that we didn’t have the pro days, so we didn’t have guys that did not receive very good fall grades and then all of the sudden would pop up as testing phenoms.”

You can listen to the full interview with Schneider at this link or in the player below.

Follow 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil and Paul Gallant on Twitter.

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Schneider: Seahawks tight end room gets even better with rookie picks