Potential Future Los Angeles Chargers Stars: Donald Parham

Donald Parham

The Los Angeles Chargers tight end group is currently in a state of transition of sorts. With Hunter Henry gone, they will now likely be trying to figure out who the next tight end of the future will be for them – because while Jared Cook is a quite solid veteran starter, he’s almost certainly nothing more than a short-term plan for them. While it’s quite possible the Chargers draft a tight end, there’s one other promising project on their roster – Donald Parham, who caught a few touchdowns for the team last year and could potentially have a chance in 2021 to step up more.

Future Possible Los Angeles Chargers Stars: Donald Parham

XFL Carryover

There’s a fair chance that many NFL fans had never heard of Donald Parham prior to 2020 – unless they watched the XFL. And there may still be some who don’t know who he is since he’s only been a backup tight end with the Chargers. Parham went undrafted in 2019 and spent some brief time with the Detroit Lions and Washington Football Team, but after being dropped in September, went without a team all year.

He joined the XFL in 2020 and became the primary tight end of the Dallas Renegades. He was quite successful there, as in five games, he finished with 24 catches for 307 yards and four touchdowns. This included a 65-yard touchdown where he showed off some unexpected speed for a tight end. He actually finished third in the league in receiving, and the Chargers took notice of his work with the XFL and gave him a shot.

Matchup Nightmare

As one would expect, Parham didn’t have quite the level of success in his first full year in the NFL that he did with the XFL. Nonetheless, he became a sneakily good second option at tight end in the red zone. He caught 10 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns. Half of that production came in the final two weeks when he was given a larger role due to Hunter Henry being placed on the COVID reserve list. In those final two weeks, he nabbed five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

The big plus with Parham is that he is an absolute matchup nightmare. He stands at 6-foot-8 with an impressive wingspan and jumping ability as well, allowing him to make some difficult catches. This became particularly useful in the red zone, which is where most of his usage last year was. As shown during his 65-yard XFL touchdown, he also can have some unexpected speed when in space.

Still, the Chargers didn’t seem ready to give him full starter status even during those final two weeks last year. Stephen Anderson, who’s pretty clearly more of a career backup, got even more looks/snaps during that time than Parham did. Anderson being a better blocker might have had something to do with that. But while the other aspects of tight end are important as well, Parham has such upside as a receiver that one would want to utilize it – and the Chargers did last year, to an extent, primarily as a red-zone target. The question is if his role will get expanded at all or not under Brandon Staley’s coaching regime.

Last Word

Parham is admittedly still a little bit of a project, but he has tremendous upside as a pass-catcher and is definitely the sort of guy you want to look for in the red zone – but he’s capable of making things happen elsewhere on the field too. Time will tell if he can become well-rounded enough to become a future full-time starter at tight end, but the talent is there.

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