Welcome to Mizzou, where the tight ends are known for their pass-catching and not so much for their blocking.
This era of Mizzou football has been known for its tight ends dating back to 2005 when Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman burst on the scene to produce more than 1,000 yards receiving as Chase Daniel’s leading pass-catchers.
That was only the beginning. It evolved from there. Whether it was Rucker, Coffman, Albert Okwuegbunam or so many in between, the Tigers have been known for tight ends who didn’t serve the role of the prototypical “pro-style” tight end.
Martin Rucker’s ESPN NFL Draft Profile:
“Rucker shows good athletic ability for his size and is a fluid route-runner, but he isn’t a great drive-blocker and isn’t fast enough to stretch the field at the NFL level.”
Chase Coffman’s ESPN NFL Draft Profile:
“Coffman’s biggest weakness right now is his blocking but he works at it and he has the frame to improve in this area. Although he’s not a guy who can stretch the field, he’s a reliable short-to-intermediate target who flashes the ability to make spectacular catches and develop into a productive red-zone target.”
Michael Egnew’s ESPN NFL Draft Profile:
“Egnew makes up for his sub-par in-line blocking skills with his ability to contribute in the passing game.”
Albert Okwuegbunam’s ESPN Fantasy Football Profile:
“Okwuegbunam has terrific size (6-foot-5, 258 pounds) and speed (he ran position-best 4.49 40-yard dash) but isn’t much of a blocker and has struggled with drops”
Notice a theme?
Not any longer. Daniel Parker Jr. is the next tight end in line. Stylistically, he couldn’t be more different from previous Tigers’ tight ends.
Parker was an offensive lineman and a defensive end in high school. He arrived at Mizzou hoping to play on the defensive side of the ball before quickly transitioning to the offense and shifting full time to playing tight end.
He never turned back.
Parker immediately made an impact as a run-blocking presence in his freshman year. That continued early in his sophomore year until something surprising happened. He suddenly found himself playing more often than Albert Okwuegbunam.
How did this happen? A sophomore overtaking a future fourth round NFL Draft pick?
He blocks. He blocks his ass off, in fact.
That’s not to suggest Parker isn’t a capable pass-catcher. He certainly is. But he breaks the norm of what we’ve come to know as the Mizzou tight end. Parker can play in-line. He can be used as a lead-blocker, and he can get out in space when needed.
It will look different than what we’ve seen in the past.
It might fit the Tigers’ current personnel better than a player with the skills of Chase Coffman or Michael Egnew. Parker is an intriguing talent, and I can’t wait to see what he looks like in Eli Drinkwitz’s offense.
So much about his role remains to be seen, but we do know this: it will look quite different than anything we’ve seen from the previous generation of Mizzou tight ends.