High School and College Career
From Peachtree Ridge High School, Payne Durham was a 3-star recruit and decided to attend Purdue University.
In his freshman season with Purdue in 2019, Durham played in 12 games and hauled in nine receptions, for 82 yards, resulting in an average gain of 9.1 yards per reception. Durham still managed to score four touchdowns. Durham allowed two pressures and one sack as a blocker.
The following year, as a sophomore in 2020, Durham played in six games with 16 catches for 166 yards, resulting in an average gain of 10.4 yards per catch. He had 3 touchdown catches, and his performance remained steady in pass protection, as he only gave up two pressures and no sacks.
During his junior year in 2021, Durham played in 12 games and secured 45 catches for 467 yards, resulting in an average gain of 10.4 yards per catch with six touchdowns. His QB rating when targeted also increased to an impressive 118.4. Additionally, in the role of a pass-blocker, Durham gave up only four pressures and no sacks.
Durham’s senior year in 2022, he played in 13 games for a total of 56 catches for 560 yards, resulting in an average gain of 10.0 yards per catch. Durham also had eight touchdown catches.
Payne Durham Scouting Report Introduction
Payne Durham’s journey to becoming a Purdue football player is an unconventional one. In high school, he was mostly known for his contribution to the lacrosse team and only caught 22 passes in his entire high school career. However, Durham caught the eye of the Purdue coaching staff and was offered a scholarship despite his limited receiving experience.
Durham’s relative inexperience has not stopped him from developing into a reliable passing option for Purdue. He is a tough and competitive blocker and is effective as a stationary run blocker both in-line and on the move in the screen game. Durham uses his strength and mobility to displace defenders and is not afraid to take on a lead role in run calls. He also works well in the passing game and presents a big target that can find the soft spots in zone coverages.
Despite his strengths, Durham has some limitations that could limit his potential as a tight end. He is not a fluid or agile mover and can struggle to break at the top of his routes. His flexibility has been questioned and he does not show the ability to sink or drop his hips on his routes. These limitations make him an average run-after-catch player and limit his ability to separate from defenders in man-to-man situations.
Durham’s versatility as a tight end is a positive aspect of his game. He can line up both as a traditional in-line tight end and a detached big slot. Although he lacks a true A-trait or trump card as a prospect, Durham’s well-rounded game, layered skills and impressive blocking ability make him a solid choice as a No. 2 tight end in his early career. His ability to block should help him see plenty of game time in two tight-end sets, and he has a safe and solid floor as a player.
Durham stands out due to his quick release off the line, his skill in avoiding defenders, and his capability to separate himself from the competition by creating space in the middle of the field.
In addition to these standout traits, Durham is also gifted with long arms and soft hands that allow him to extend his catch radius and make plays that other players might miss. This gives him an edge in the red zone, where he can effectively shield defenders and use his size to gain an advantage.
But Durham is not just a receiver — he is also an effective blocker who understands the role he plays on his team. He has good knee-bend and technique, and is able to use his frame to generate power when his hands hit their target. This makes him a well-rounded player who is able to contribute in a variety of ways.
He seems to struggle in one area: catching the ball with his hands instead of letting it come into his body. When the ball gets close to him, Durham tends to rely on his body to catch it instead of using his hands to snatch it out of the air. This can lead to more drops and a lower catch rate overall.
Despite this weakness, Durham’s greatest strength is in running downfield. He understands how to get open and create separation from defenders, which allows him to make plays when the ball is in the air. However, his lack of elite top-end speed or acceleration means that he isn’t a true field stretcher. He won’t be threatening the top of the defense with blazing speed, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be effective in other ways.
Payne Durham is the 165th prospect on our draft big board.