From now until the 2023 NFL Draft we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top-10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Purdue TE Payne Durham.
#87 Payne Durham, TE, Purdue (R-Senior) – 6055, 253lb
Senior Bowl/Combine Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Payne Durham||6’5 5/8”, 253lb||9 3/4||33 3/8||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Has good size, height, and length for the position
— Height, length, and leaping ability makes him a good red zone/jump ball target
— Possesses soft, strong hands to make contested catches
— Has the body control to work in traffic
— Creates after the catch by running through arm tackles
— Skilled route runner for the position over the middle of the field
— Utilized on speed outs, flares, TE boots, and leak routes to get open in space
— Has played in-line, in the slot, at H-Back, and as a fullback
— Possession receiver that is a good security blanket over the middle of the field
— Does a good job of stretching the seam vertically
— Holds onto the football when contacted by the defender at the catch point
— Does a good job as a move blocker getting a body on a defender
— Can make blocks in space on screens as well as in-line blocker at the LOS
— Gives effort as a blocker with good base and leg drive
— Has a thin lower half relative to his frame
— Doesn’t generate much power as an in-line blocker
— Struggles blocking against base DEs in the running game and in pass protection
— Isn’t overly twitchy as an athlete in terms of quickness
— Lacks long speed and burst as a receiver
— Isn’t going to run away from anyone after the catch
— Can do a better job creating separation to avoid having to make so many combative catches
— Needs to fill out frame to be a more consistent in-line TE
— Redshirt Senior Prospect from Suwanee, GA
— Born June 15, 2000 (age 23)
— Played lacrosse prior to moving over to football as a senior in high school
— Appeared in two Purdue games as a reserve and redshirted in 2018
— Appeared in all 12 games in 2019 with four starts and caught nine passes for 82 yards and four touchdowns
— Started six games in 2020 and caught 16 passes for 166 yards and three touchdowns
— Appeared in 12 games in 2021, making 10 starts, and caught 45 passes for 467 yards and six touchdowns
— Started 13 games in 2022, and caught 56 passes for 560 yards and eight touchdowns
— Second-team All-Big Ten (2022), All-Big Ten honorable mention (2021), Academic All-Big Ten (2019-22)
— Selling & Sales Management Major, pursuing MS in Technology Leadership & Innovation
Payne Durham went to Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, GA, where he shared the gridiron with current Steelers TE Connor Heyward. Durham went to Purdue while went Heyward went to Big Ten rival Michigan State, and Durham became a quality player at TE for the Boilermakers over the course of his career. He initially redshirted, but improved every season, seeing his playing time increase as well as his statical output. He capped off his career with a near 600-yard, eight TD performance in 2022 which netted him second team All-Big Ten honors.
When you plug in the Durham’s tape, you see a big, long TE prospect who carries himself like a power forward on the basketball court. He has the length and height to win jump balls against smaller DBs, also making contested catches in traffic as well as outside his frame thanks to his reach out and makes catches outside his frame. He made several impressive catches at Senior Bowl practices as you can see in the clips below, showcasing his receiving ability in traffic near the red zone.
He does a good job stretching the seam up the middle and holds onto the ball once contacted by defenders attempting to break up the pass. Watch this first clip in which Durham reels in the pass as he runs up the middle and secures the catch with a defender draped over him. In the second clip, we see Durham get popped by two defenders upon making the catch over the middle, having his helmet pop off, but completes the process of the catch.
For a bigger guy, Durham does a good job attempting to create after the catch. He uses his size to break arm tackles of smaller defenders, as you can see on this catch-and-run against Maryland. He catches the dump off then proceeds to turn up field and stiff arm one defender and keeps his legs churning to carry multiple Terrapins with him inside the 5-yard line.
Durham was used in a multitude of ways at Purdue, lining up all over the formation. They employed him on speed outs, TE leaks, and other misdirection plays to get him open in space for easy completions with a chance to run after the catch, like you see on this reception in the flat against Syracuse that went for a first down.
Durham was used extensively as a blocker for the Boilermakers — in-line, at H-Back, in the slot, and even at fullback on occasion. He does a good job squaring up his opponent and driving his legs on contact, making down blocks as well as blocks in space, as you can see in the two-play sequence below. He has upside as a move blocker at H-Back, coming across the LOS to put a body on a defender.
Durham lacks ideal mass on his frame as well as functional strength to consistently block base DEs in the run game as well as when asked to stay in and pass protect. He needs to play with a stronger punch and move his feet better. as you can see in the clip below. He gets beat around the corner by the defender, who swims over his shoulder and gets home for the sack.
Payne Durham is a proven receiver that can be a security blanket for a QB over the middle of the field as well as a true red zone weapon. He has experience playing all different alignments and can be utilized as a blocker, both in-line as well as on the move out in space. Durham is limited athletically when it comes to straight-line speed, burst, acceleration, and shiftiness. He needs to generate more separation as a route runner to avoid having to make contested catches regularly. He also needs to add more strength and mass to his frame to become a more consistent blocker.
When watching Durham, I got a similar vibe watching his game in comparison to Pittsburgh’s very own Pat Freiermuth. Freiermuth has near identical size and length and excels as a security blanket over the middle as well as being a threat in the red zone thanks to his size and contested-catch ability. He can create after the catch as well but isn’t going to beat anyone in a foot race. While Freiermuth gives effort as a blocker, he needs to get stronger to improve in this area and round out his game — like Durham at this stage in his development.
Given the depth of this TE class, I would expect Durham to go somewhere in the middle rounds as a potential value pick for a team looking for a developmental TE2. Durham can play all over the formation and brings that receiving upside but may never provide that dominant play as a run blocker. Still, he can contribute as a blocker and on special teams as he continues to develop into a more well-rounded player that can potentially become a quality starter.
Projection: Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.7 – Potential Starter/Good Backup (3rd Round)
Games Watched: at Maryland (2022), at (Syracuse (2022), vs Penn State (2022), Senior Bowl (2022)