The TE1 of Stashes
Matt Nein / @mnein9
TE Colby Parkinson is a player, in one of the deepest draft classes in recent memory, whose name I have failed to see come up almost at all. Drafted by Seattle in the 4th round, Parkinson has a very intriguing profile and is one of the absolute best stashes to be had right now at any position.
Parkinson arrived at Stanford anticipating redshirting his freshman year but during camp he made so many ‘wow’ plays that he ended up playing right away. Parkinson played in 39 career games at Stanford and started 32 of those. He started 6 games as a freshman, all 12 as a sophomore, and all 13 as a junior. He finished his career at Stanford with 87 REC – 1171 REC YDS – 12 REC TD.
College TE production is not something I take too seriously when evaluating a prospect. We all know how dominant Jimmy Graham was with New Orleans and Seattle. Graham’s career at Miami was a short one as he only played his senior year catching 17 receptions for 213 yards and 5 TDs. The consensus TE1 right now is George Kittle and in Kittle’s 4-year career at Iowa he caught 48 receptions for 737 yards and 10TDs.
Colby Parkinson had a better statistical college career than both of them, combined. When it comes to evaluating TEs I look at 2 things, athletic profile, and situation (why they were drafted/potential role).
Colby Parkinson stands at a commanding 6’7” and weighs 252 lbs. He is no doubt a physical presence on the football field. He is actually a very smooth route runner and his previous coaches have said he ‘glides’ on the field in spite of being so tall.
His former head coach David Shaw had this to say about his route running ability: “He’ll be one of the better seam-running tight ends in the league. He’s a guy that can run and at 6-foot-7, he’s a great target for a guy like Russell Wilson. … He’ll be able to outrun most linebackers, and he’s bigger than most safeties.”
Seattle Seahawks GM, John Schneider, also had glowing remarks about Parkinson after the Seahawks selected him: “Stanford’s coach was bragging about him you know and loves him and, you know, the huge targets got great hands. You know that they, they didn’t have plans to play him right away, but he was just too good, and you have big people like that running down the middle of the field and he is going to be a smart, tough, reliable guy. Just off the charts from a character standpoint.”
Parkinson also has a huge catch radius which can be super beneficial to a QB like Russell Wilson who makes a lot of plays off script. He is just like Jimmy Graham, a guy you can just throw it up to and he will go get it because of his size and physicality. Yes, just like Jimmy Graham…
These are some of Colby’s highlights from his senior season. The way he plays, and moves is uncanny to Jimmy Graham. In the video you can also see that Colby plays much faster than his above number suggest.
How does he fit in with Seattle?
Seattle, in my opinion, made a very poor choice in trading away their pro bowl center for the All-Pro TE, Jimmy Graham, back in 2015. However, the way Graham was used in Seattle’s offense is the same way I think they will use Parkinson. As far as physical measurements go, Parkinson and Graham are mirror images of each other.
During Graham’s time in Seattle, he scored 18 TDs. How these were scored however I find to be very telling. All 18 scores were either a jump ball or a seam throw right down the middle of the field and both of these are strengths of Parkinson’s.
The TE role in the Seattle offense can be very rewarding, especially for someone with Parkinson’s size and talents.
This chart shows how the TE position has fared under Pete Carroll since 2010. The 3 years Graham was there, he was targeted 74, 95, and 96 times, respectively. This was well above the normal average from the previous 5 years or even the most recent 2. If Parkinson can prove to the Seahawks coaching staff that he can make the same contested catches that Graham made (like he did to the Stanford coaching staff) then Parkinson might be one of the rare rookie TEs that carves out a role right away.
The chart also shows that Pete Carroll only likes to feature one TE. The top TE target from each of the past 10 years has received on average, 71% of the total TE targets. In Jimmy Graham’s 3 years, he received 88%, 77% and 72% of the total TE targets.
Another thing that is exciting about Parkinson’s potential 2020 role (and beyond) is that he isn’t just a TE. While at Stanford, he learned every single WR position so he could be the ultimate red zone weapon. (Go back and watch the above video if needed. He looks like a WR from time to time but he is a TE.) There is a good chance Seattle drafted him with the same thought. Dissly is a much better blocker than Parkinson so Seattle could use Dissly sparingly to avoid another major injury and develop Parkinson into a TE/WR hybrid. Pete Carroll has consistently drafted guys with flexibility at positions like Parkinson’s, so even with Dissly and newly signed Olsen, there is a good chance Parkinson still gets on the field.
Right now, Parkinson is probably sitting on your waiver wire for free. If you are shallow at the TE position or looking for a high upside stash, then he is your guy. I believe long term he has back end TE1 upside.
The addition of Greg Olsen doesn’t scare me. Olsen has been on and off the field a lot over the last few years with several injuries including multiple foot surgeries. Current Seahawks starter Will Dissly also hasn’t been the pinnacle of health. In 2018 he had a patellar tendon rupture that cost him the season and in 2019 he sprained his knee and tore his Achilles which also ended his season. (All injuries were in the left leg.) If either or both of these guys get injured, Parkinson could play a very significant part of the Seattle offense this year and moving forward.
Dissly is also a very different kind of TE than Parkinson. Parkinson has length and speed that can stretch the field while Dissly is more of an inline blocker.
For a guy that’s practically free right now, there’s no better add. Stash on the taxi squad and wait!
Parkinson is recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal right now. He underwent surgery on June 2nd and according to team doctors is looking phenomenal in his recovery right now. Seahawks coaches are optimistic that he will be ready for week 1 but I would expect him to miss maybe a game or two. This should have zero impact on his long-term outlook.