When the Miami Dolphins selected DeVante Parker with the 1st round pick in 2015, we knew about the foot injury. Erring on the side of caution, the foot was dealt with surgically with long-term interests in mind.
Fast forward to the November 29th contest against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium, DeVante Parker started to emerge. In the final 6 games of the 2015 season, Parker racked up 22 catches, 445 yards, and 3 TD’s. Projected over 16 games, that equates to 59 catches, 1,187 yards, and 8 TD’s. Dolphins fans were salivating over Parker’s playmaking and the potential he brought heading into the 2016 season.
We finally had a match-up nightmare on the boundary.
And then the 2016 season happened.
Held out of the Week 1 contest at Seattle for a lingering preseason hamstring issue, one can argue that the hamstring injury affected performance through parts, if not the majority, of the season, although Seattle is the only game he missed. The Miami Dolphins, at times, were not shy to attribute his underwhelming 2016 season to his health:
“I don’t think he’s been healthy,” Christensen said. “I don’t think he’s been 100 percent. There’s something about just not feeling great. It’s hard to play that position when you’re not feeling great.”
But juxtapose this type of comment with what we saw earlier in the year:
Reports surfaced at the end of August about Adam Gase’s frustration with DeVante Parker regarding a relative immaturity of taking care of himself physically. Matthew Cannata, host of Phinsider Radio along with co-hosts Josh Houtz and some other douche, had mentioned that the Miami Dolphins, internally, were expecting more from the 2nd year WR in terms of growth and professionalism. Eating habits being among the concerns.
DeVante Parker had 1 more TD in 2016 than his 6-game stretch in 2015. He’d finish the 2016 regular season with 56 yards, 744 yards, and 3 TD’s. But let’s get beyond the relative baselessness of box scores. Let’s look at targets - most of us play fantasy football, and we know the importance of targets: it means opportunity.
DeVante Parker was targeted more than 4 times in 8 of 15 games. By contrast, Kenny Stills received more than 4 targets in 6 of the final 7 games of the NFL season, noteworthy because it’s when the Dolphins had entered the Playoff picture. Parker had 4 games to Stills’ 6 in the final 7 game stretch. When it mattered most, DeVante Parker was the 3rd most targeted Dolphins WR.
I don’t mean to sound doom-and-gloom about Parker, because I’m not. I just want to be fair in my criticism. We became more focused on the run, so of course that’ll affect WR targets, so I’m perhaps overstating my concern. Inconsistency and health have been the thorn in Parker’s development to this point, but he still earned an admirable ranking of 26th per PFF, 27 spots ahead of Kenny Stills.
I can think of at least two other-worldly catches by DeVante Parker in the San Francisco game alone that were negated by penalty. Box scores lie. Or rather, they don’t give the full context of a player’s value. I saw the fluky play firsthand in Baltimore that had a TD catch literally snatched from his abdomen.
I have not seen the All-22 of any game, so from my armchair perspective, it could very well be the case of defenses adjusting coverage to Parker and opening up opportunities for others. All I can say is that I expected more in 2016, and big time players force themselves into the flow of the game.
My trousers bulged a bit when we drafted DeVante Parker, as I saw the big play potential (he was my favorite WR in the 2015 Draft, even more than Kevin White, and I follow WVU college football), and he’s shown plenty of glimpses of that in a Dolphins uniform. In the all-too-pivotal 3rd year, does DeVante Parker take no prisoners, or will we be discussing consistency issues a year from now?
There may be no bigger boom-or-bust candidate on the Miami Dolphins roster than DeVante Parker.