Seahawks rookie profile: Colby Parkinson has the tools to be a good receiving TE
At first glance, the Seahawks’ tight end room seemed set before the NFL Draft kicked off. There was returning starter Will Dissly, new free agent acquisition and three-time Pro Bowler Greg Olsen, longtime veteran Luke Willson, second-year player Justin Johnson and Jacob Hollister, the latter of whom strung together a surprise of a season after starting the year on the practice squad. So why, then, did Seattle use its fourth pick in the draft on Stanford tight end Colby Parkinson?
It’s a fair question – but on second glance, that tight room isn’t quite set after all. Dissly is coming off his second season-ending injury in two years, while Willson, Olsen and Hollister are playing on one-year deals (the latter under a second-round tender). Johnson spent 2019 on Seattle’s practice squad.
The Seahawks didn’t stop with Parkinson; they also drafted LSU’s Stephen Sullivan in the seventh round and added undrafted rookie free agents Dom Wood-Anderson (Tennessee) and Tyler Mabry (Maryland).
If Parkinson has a strong rookie season, he gives the Seahawks a cheap, long-term option. So what does he bring to the table, and how can he make a breakout in a packed tight end room?
You can listen to an Offseason Spotlight profile on Parkinson by 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake Heaps here, but here’s a quick rundown:
What you need to know
Parkinson finished his three-year career at Stanford with 87 catches for 1,171 yards and 12 touchdowns. He didn’t find the end zone often in 2019 (one touchdown) but saw highs in receptions (48) and yards (589).
“Colby Parkinson has the size, the range and the length to be a very good receiving tight end in this league,” Heaps said.
Parkinson’s greatest strength – outside of his 6-7 frame – are his sure hands.
“They know that when they drafted Parkinson they wouldn’t have to worry about his pass-catching ability,” Heaps said. “He was used more as a receiving tight end at Stanford than a guy who put his hand in the ground and got involved in the run game. This guy didn’t drop a single pass in the 2019 season. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he had a really good understanding of routes and space. He wasn’t just used as a slot tight end, he was used all over the field; outside receiver, in the slot, Stanford was very creative in the way they used him. As an outside receiver, they were even willing to throw 50-50 go balls to him against corners and he did a really good job there as well.”
The big question
The question for Parkinson isn’t one of height, but size. Parkinson weighs 252-pounds at 6-7, which is a bit lean for a traditional tight end that might weigh in closer to 265.
“He’s not a big, thick guy at tight end,” Heaps said, “and that doesn’t translate well in the run game. That’s the one knock on him right now – he’s not a complete tight end right now, he’s more of a receiving tight end than anything else and he’s going to have to work hard to improve.”
Building up that size can help with blocking – a skill that would allow a rookie competing for a spot on the 53-man roster to set himself apart.
“If this kid can put on the weight like Pete Carroll is hoping for, and if can adapt to the playbook, he’s got a chance to come in right away and steal some reps from guys,” Heaps said. “His height and route-running ability is going to help him find a way on the field.”
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