Since 2010 there have been seven tight ends out of Stanford drafting by NFL teams. This includes players like Coby Fleener, Zach Ertz and Austin Hooper. 2020 should see this number rise to eight. Colby Parkinson is heading for the NFL.
Parkinson attended Oaks Christian School in Westlake Village, California. In a revelation that will come as no shock to anyone, he dabbled in basketball as well as football. 247Sports ranked as a four-star recruit and the number one TE prospect in the nation out of high school, as well as the seventh-best player in the state of California.
Parkinson received college offers from some of the biggest schools in the country, including Alabama, Michigan, and Georgia. But he elected to stay close to home and committed to Stanford.
Parkinson had a quiet freshman season but began to make his presence felt on the Cardinal offense in his second season. During the 2018 campaign, he registered six receptions for 166 yards and four touchdowns against Oregon State. The yards were the second-most by a TE in school history, while no other Stanford TE in history had ever caught four touchdowns in a single game.
As a junior in 2019, he earned All-Pac 12 second-team honors and was named a semi-finalist for the John Mackey Award, the award given annually to college football’s most outstanding TE. Parkinson would lose out to Florida Atlantic TE Harrison Bryant. Parkinson announced that he would be declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft despite having a year of college eligibility left to him.
Parkinson is 6 feet 7 inches and weighed in at 235 pounds early in the 2019 season. At this stage of the pre-draft process, folks don’t seem to be too high on him. CBS has him ranked as their No.11 TE. Draft Countdown has him at TE9. He is up at TE7 over on Draft Scout. Benjamin Solak has him ranked as the 136th best player in the class on his latest big board.
Solak has some encouraging things to say about Parkinson as a prospect, noting that Parkinson
has true straight-line explosiveness and long speed unexpected of a titular “tight end.”
But, he notes, the team uses Parkinson in a somewhat limited fashion. They had him running routes that go straight down the field. He is not a traditional blocker. But given his size and speed, a creative offensive coach could make use of him as a big slot option and not expose him to too much blocking. But this doesn’t help him in becoming an early selection in the draft. The landing spot could be crucial for Parkinson’s hopes of success.
WHAT HISTORY TELLS US
In his seminal work on the NFL Scouting Combine Drills that matter for TEs, Kevin Cole produced the tree you can see below.
Draft Scout estimates Parkinson’s 40-yard time to be between 4.62 and 4.83. A mark at the lower end of this scale would stand him in good stead moving forward, assuming he can master the bench and the vert.
Another crucial factor in predicting future fantasy success for TEs is age. Blair Andrews researched all player seasons since 2000 looking for some relationship between career fantasy production and age of rookie season, or draft age. Here we can see his findings.
Parkinson falls nicely into this first cohort, with his 21st birthday having fallen on January 7th. So if his name is not called early in Vegas, don’t despair. He is young enough, and probably fast enough, to still make a mark in the pros.
As I write this, it would be a surprise if a team were to use a very early pick to take Parkinson. The draft services I’ve looked at don’t seem too optimistic that this will happen. But he has enough going his way to suggest that he can be a productive player at the NFL’s most volatile position. This does assume that he lands with a team that will use him properly. If a team that is run by “football guys” who like their TEs to block and nothing more select Parkinson, then all bets are off. Let us hope this does not happen.