Seahawks may have filled their No. 3 receiver role by drafting 2 TEs
The Seahawks’ top two receivers were easy to identify in 2019. Tyler Lockett reached the century-mark for the first time in his five-year NFL career with 1,057 receiving yards on 82 catches (110 targets), and rookie DK Metcalf make a strong impression with 900 yards on 58 receptions (100 targets).
After those two, however, it’s hard to determine who Seattle’s No. 3 receiver was.
Had it not been for a ruptured Achilles suffered in Week 6, tight end Will Dissly may have been the obvious answer. He averaged 52.5 receiving yards per game over Seattle’s first five contests, and the Seahawks struggled to replace that production after his season-ending injury. Perhaps Dissly’s performance in the passing game, which has been a pleasant surprise considering his reputation was as more of a blocker than a receiver coming out of college at the University of Washington, had something to do with the Seahawks’ decision in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Seattle took not one but two tight ends on the final day of the three-day event, selecting Stanford’s Colby Parkinson in the fourth round and trading back into the seventh round to take LSU’s Stephen Sullivan. Former Seahawks quarterback Jake Heaps, who now co-hosts 710 ESPN Seattle’s Tom, Jake and Stacy, thinks that may be a signal that a change in offensive philosophy is happening.
“I don’t know if we talked enough about the move that they made here at the tight end position, to take two guys that are significantly more geared towards being a pass-catching threat than being a run-blocking threat,” Heaps said during the Four-Down Territory segment of last Thursday’s show. “When you brought in Will Dissly, it was because he was the best run-blocking tight end in the draft, and you thought maybe he could develop in his tight end role and be a decent pass catcher for you, and he exploded onto the scene. Well, Colby Parkinson and Stephen Sullivan are major pass catchers.”
Maybe Dissly’s performances in his two injury-shortened seasons opened some eyes at Seahawks headquarters.
“What it signaled to me is that they’re actually looking at that tight end position to really fill in that receiver 3 position that we were talking about,” Heaps continued. “Who’s going to be that third receiver for Russell Wilson? And it might not actually come from the receiver position. It might come from the tight end position. As you look at (free-agent addition) Greg Olsen, Will Dissly, you look at the future of Colby Parkinson and Stephen Sullivan – I think that those two could be really dynamic for you in the future and develop really nicely. And now you’ve got a group of tight ends that can be dynamic, can be used in different ways, so yeah, you might roll out on the field in 12 personnel or 13 personnel – two, three tight ends – but they’re used all over the field and I think that that could create a lot of positive mismatches for you.”
The 6-foot-7, 251-pound Parkinson made 48 receptions for 589 yards and a touchdown in 2019 for the Cardinal, which followed up a 2018 season where he had 485 yards and seven TDs on 29 receptions. The 6-5, 248-pound Sullivan, meanwhile, had 12 catches for 130 yards in six games for the national champion Tigers last season and 363 yards and two TDs on 23 receptions in 10 games the previous year.
While the Seahawks now have some pass-catching depth at tight end in addition to Dissly, Heaps was cautious about saying when a shift to Seattle’s offense may happen.
“It might not be something that they’re able to implement right away here in 2020, but I think that could be easily a direction that they go here in the future,” he said.
You can listen to Heaps’ full comment in this podcast from Tom, Jake and Stacy.