RENTON, Wash. – The Seahawks’ tallest pass-catcher, Colby Parkinson, might also be one of the team’s biggest mysteries heading into the 2022 season.
Is this the season the third-year 6-foot-7 tight end can stay healthy and finally become the offensive threat the Seahawks envisioned when they drafted him 133rd overall in 2020?
Early returns are positive. Parkinson had two catches for 27 yards in Saturday’s mock game, including a 20-yarder from Drew Lock that keyed a touchdown drive for the second-team offense against the first-team defense.
“I think probably one of the bigger surprises is that Colby Parkinson is just better,” coach Pete Carroll said last week. “He’s just better.”
Part of that is because Parkinson is also just bigger, having put on about 10 pounds over the off-season, now weighing in at 260.
Someone saying they are in the best shape of their life, of course, is something of an NFL training camp cliché.
But in Parkinson’s case, the added bulk is something on which the Seahawks were counting. Parkinson weighed about 230 as a freshman at Stanford in 2017 and was listed at 251 when the Seahawks drafted him, bedazzled not only by his height but also his college production, catching 48 passes for 589 yards in 2019.
Parkinson was 21 when drafted. The Seahawks anticipated he’d fill out some over the next few years, allowing Parkinson to become more than just a pass-catching tight end.
“He’s physically rounded his body out. He’s working really hard on the strength stuff, but now it’s become part of his movement and power coming off of the line of scrimmage,” Carroll said. “He’s blocking well.”
Parkinson said the weight gain came in part the easy and fun way – “eating a lot,” he said, roughly 3,000-5,000 calories a day.
He also said he spent part of his offseason working out with some of his former teammates at Stanford and “did a lot of O-line (offensive line) lifts.”
That wasn’t all Parkinson did this summer. Having taken up guitar in high school, he recently bought a Fender Stratocaster and said a recent project has been to learn “Scar Tissue” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.
That’s a somewhat on-the-nose song to try to master given that injuries have been a much-too-prominent part of his story in his first two seasons.
He broke the fifth metatarsal in his foot in a workout in June 2020 that limited him to six games as a rookie, and then suffered a re-injury of the foot in training camp last season in mid-August.
But Parkinson said the injuries are “all in the past now. I feel like I’m moving around really well.”
His goal for this season is a simple one, Parkinson said.
“I want to show that I can be on the field every down, not just a pass-catcher but someone who can block as well,” he said.
Now the tricky part is finding a way to get on the field to prove that.
The injuries helped limit Parkinson to playing just 20 of a possible 33 regular-season games the past two years, and often playing sparingly – he has 186 snap counts in his NFL career and seven catches for 49 yards.
Parkinson is third on the depth chart at tight end behind two players Seattle has invested in heavily – Noah Fant and Will Dissly. Seattle acquired Fant from Denver in the Russell Wilson trade and picked up his option for the 2023 season due to pay him $6.85 million. Seattle also re-signed Dissly in March to a three-year deal worth up to $24 million. Those two deals are the main reason Seattle is sixth in spending on tight ends for the 2023 season among all NFL teams at just over $18 million.
But even if Dissly and Fant figure to take up the bulk of the snaps at tight end, the Seahawks hope to also find ways to work in Parkinson in with the offense of second-year coordinator Shane Waldron.
“The group of guys right now that can do a little bit of everything,” Waldron said, promising Seattle will find ways to get all three on the field regularly. “So the more tight ends can do, the more chances we can move them around and not necessarily just have to line them up in a static inline position and give them a chance to move around and present different looks for a defense.”
Parkinson is confident the opportunities will be there.
“I think we all offer some unique abilities on the field so I think there are some good chances for all of us to be out there at the same time,” he said. “… I think it was the stuff that Shane has tried to implement has been tight end friendly. I think a lot of quick game stuff really runs a hand to the tight ends. Trying to be efficient on first and second down, making sure we are getting the ball out fast. And with three guys that can catch the ball really well, it should bode well for us this year.”
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