With Redskins Training Camp in full swing, all eyes will be on franchise quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Coach Jay Gruden has made a point of divvying up the snaps at quarterback between Case Keenum, Colt McCoy and the aforementioned Haskins, with receivers and tight rotated in and out during the practice sessions.
During 7 on 7’s, Haskins found a reliable target in the virtually unknown tight end from Stetson University. That tight end is 6’8” 237 lbs Donald Parham, who’s proven to be a difficult matchup for Washington’s linebackers and DB’s.
The Burgundy and Gold Report featured the Stetson tight end back in April, as a possible Day 3 Diamond, during the pre-draft Small School Prospect analysis on Twitter.
Parham grew up in Lakeland, Florida with a rich family football background with his father, uncles and cousin playing college football. The 6’8” receiving tight end always considered himself a basketball player in high school but transitioned to football his senior year and enjoyed playing receiver. Stetson University gave him a chance and moved him from receiver to tight end.
At Stetson, coaches primarily used Parham in their receiving tight end role. His transition was slow during his freshman and sophomore years, but he came alive during his junior and senior seasons, racking up 817 receiving yards in ’17 with 1 touchdown, and became the team’s leading man in ’18 with 1319 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns. During his senior year Parham earned FCS All-American honors and was elected as the top tight end in the All-Pioneer League. Parham led all FBS/FCS tight ends with a 9.4 reception-per-game average in addition to averaging 146.6 receiving yard per game.
NFL Draft analyst Lance Zierlein had the following to say about Parham.
“In today’s NFL, labels are falling by the wayside and such is the case for the tall Stetson tight end. In reality, he is an unusually tall, mismatch slot with soft hands and intriguing athletic ability.”
Fit in Washington
As Redskins’ fans can attest, pass catching tight end Jordan Reed is one of the most dynamic pass catchers in recent memory for Washington, but that’s usually followed up with, “as long as he stays healthy”. By all accounts, Reed has looked great in camp, but the depth behind him should concern Redskins fans.
The group includes 35-year-old veteran Vernon Davis, who’s in the tail-end of his career and looked to be breaking down during the second half of the 2019 season. Seldom used Jeremy Sprinkle rounds out the group and his role has been limited to lining up as the Redskins’ Y blocking tight end on run downs. Those options make you wonder why Washington didn’t draft a tight end, considering the shortcomings in the position over the last couple of seasons. Washington will need another option at tight end and grooming Reed’s successor should be a priority.
Parham offers a lethal red-zone option with the ability to be a mismatch nightmare. In saying that, the door should be open for Parham to make the final 53-man roster or practice squad at worst.
Ability and Ceiling
Parham is a long strider with the ability to separate from defenders as he builds up speed. He flashes fearlessness when catching the ball over the middle with soft hands. The Stetson tight end won’t run over defenders, but has a sneaky ability to slip out of arm tackles when defenders go low.
On Nov 3, 2018 versus Morehead State, Parham’s freakish ability was on display. Parham played the best game of his collegiate career that day and recorded 9 rec for 187 yards and 2 TD’s. What stood out in the 48-24 route by Stetson, was a 69-yard catch and run by Parham. On the play, he utilized his 7-foot wingspan when he high pointed the pass from QB Collin McGovern. Parham eluded multiple tackles and nearly outran the coverage to score, but was stopped with a shoestring tackle.
Although Parham has a long way to go as far as refining his in-line blocking ability, he can be as good of a blocker, if not, better than Reed. When in space, Parham displayed the ability to push defenders off the ball by utilizing his long arms and often sprung his teammates for long gains.
With the positives, come the negatives. Parham’s level of competition at Stetson as well as his slender frame will challenge his ability to adjust on the fly. He’ll be facing defenders that are substantially faster and more athletic than he is. Parham has taken advantage of his limited opportunities by making a few impressive catch & runs during training camp
Fans cringe at the thought of injuries, but one of the aforementioned tight ends could have a setback or worse. Parham has to be viewed as a match-up nightmare, albeit raw. The Redskins could boast one of the youngest offenses in recent memory. Last year’s fan favorite UDFA Cam Sims looks to climb the depth chart, and having another UDFA with Parham’s size might be too hard to pass up for Coach Gruden and new Offensive Coordinator Kevin O’Connell.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport
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