Miami Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker joined the South Florida franchise last night, being selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft with the 14th overall selection. Parker came into the Draft with the second highest grade among wide receivers, trailing just Alabama's Amari Cooper. That does not mean there are not come questions that will follow Parker to Miami, and former NFL defensive end Stephen White raises those concerns.
The two big things White sees that might be an issue for Parker is the healthy of his foot, and his consistency. Parker missed the majority of last season with a foot injury, a problem that required surgery and limited Parker to just six games played.
You might think because Parker balled out in the last six games after he came back and performed well at the combine that nobody will care, but if a team is thinking about drafting a guy, it needs to know he won't break down on them in a year or two. I'm not saying there will be any problems with his medicals, but if you see Parker slide a bit on draft day, I'd imagine that is the reason.
Parker may have slid a little in the Draft, at least compared to the mock drafts that had him being picked earlier on Thursday night. Those are mock drafts, however, and teams may have just wanted to pick someone else, rather than Parker, so there is no way to read if Parker slid down draft boards because of his foot problem.
White's biggest critique of Parker, though, is his ability to go 100-percent on every snap. White points out that Parker would give up on plays too early at times, and would allow smaller cornerbacks to make a play at times, rather than us his size to outmatch the corner. He does point out that part of the problem may be related to the foot injury, either from Parker not yet trusting his foot to be 100-percent healed, as well as a lack of being in "football" shape due to missing so much practice and game time, but he does want to see more from the Dolphins' newest player.
One of the reasons I'm not quite as high on Parker as other evaluators is that while he made a lot of those big plays, he also seemed to give away several big plays. Like, here is a guy that obviously knows how to go up and high point a back shoulder fade. With his height and leaping ability, he should be a monster on those routes. And he was a monster ... just not consistently.
I can live with a receiver not catching some contested balls in those situations -- there's a reason we call them 50/50 balls in the first place. My problem with Parker was that he didn't always appear to fight for the ball when he had an opportunity.
Sometimes that lack of fight manifested itself in Parker not actually jumping to catch the ball at the highest point possible, where he could ensure that he would be the only person with a chance to catch it. Instead, he sometimes allowed shorter, less physically gifted corners make plays on the ball because he allowed it to get to a lower point where the corner could get to it.
It was not all bad about Parker, someone who white describes as "impressive." He goes on to say:
Parker was a big-time playmaker at the college level. A lot of the time it was evident that opposing defenses were backed off Parker for fear he would beat them deep. What did (Louisville head coach Bobby) Petrino do? Sent him on a ton of quick slants. It was an easy way to get the ball in his hands and allow him to use his ability to break tackles to get an easy 10 yards or so. As soon as they rolled back up on him, the bombs came over their heads.
Parker, for his part, really did make a lot of hay out of those quick slants. He was constantly looking to break the first tackle attempt on those routes and then turn on the jets.
White also likes Parker's ability to go get the deep ball:
Still, there ain't nothing like a wide receiver who can get you a chunk play at any given time, and Parker can damn sure do that. When a deep ball is in the air and Parker is in the vicinity, there is a high likelihood that somebody is about to get "Moss'd." I swear I could damn near see the fear in some of the corners he faced as soon as they realized he was going deep and the ball was coming to him (Florida State secondary, I'm looking at you). Time and time again, Parker made the kinds of catches in those four games that showed their fear was not unwarranted.
What do you think of White's breakdown? There is a lot more to his look at Parker, including some good GIF work to illustrate his point, so check it out if you have the time. Let us know if you agree with White, or if you think he is flat-out wrong.