It’s time for the next installment of our Phinsider 90-in-90 series, an annual overview of the Miami Dolphins’ roster. Every day, we take a look at another player on the team’s offseason roster, breaking down what they did in 2017, why they could progress in 2018, why they could regress in 2018, and whether we think they will make the regular season 53-man roster. Thus far, we’ve covered wide receiver Leonte Carroo, punter Matt Haack, safety T.J. McDonald, and undrafted free agent Buddy Howell. Today, we continue with wideout DeVante Parker.
Parker started the 2017 season strong. Through the first three games, he was on pace for 96 catches, 1,227 yards, and five touchdowns over the course of a 16-game slate. Unfortunately, a serious ankle injury sustained against the Tennessee Titans in Miami’s fourth game of the year derailed his momentum, leading to another underwhelming season of middling production. Parker finished the season with 57 catches, 670 yards, and one touchdown. However, it can’t be denied that the 2015 first-round draft pick is immensely talented. In fact, the coaching staff and front office see as much given that they exercised Parker’s 2019 fifth-year option just a few weeks ago.
Why he will progress
Parker has been a “breakout candidate” for three straight offseasons. His physical attributes alone are enough to provide nightmares for opposing defenders and defensive coordinators, yet a slew of injuries have kept Parker from realizing his potential. As we saw early last year, an injury free training camp and start to the season could be the only thing he needs to become a true number one receiver. It’s also important to note that Parker won’t have to be catching passes from an extremely erratic Jay Cutler this season, as Ryan Tannehill is back under center. Tannehill was a far better deep ball thrower in 2016 than most gave him credit for, and with Jarvis Landry now in Cleveland, Miami needs a new primary target for the team’s franchise QB. This could be Parker’s year to take the reigns.
Why he might regress
Injury. Plain and simple. Parker has only missed six of his first 48 games in the NFL, but nagging lower body ailments have kept him playing at less than 100%, thus hampering his production. The former Louisville superstar MUST stay healthy this season. If not, it could be another disappointing year from an offensive weapon that the Dolphins’ are counting on to take the next step.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
While Parker’s future as a Dolphin is not entirely certain, as his 2019 fifth-year option is guaranteed only for injury, his status on the team for the 2018 season couldn’t be more safe. Head coach Adam Gase is counting on Parker to be the team’s primary pass-catching threat on the perimeter, meaning it’s likely Parker enters the year first on the depth chart at the x-receiver position. Despite the fact that there is a deep supporting cast around him, expect Tannehill to look Parker’s way early and often this year.