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Is This DeVante Parker’s Last Stand?

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Miami Dolphins v New York Jets Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

If Devante Parker were to dedicate a hip-hop track to himself for the 2018 NFL season, he might well choose Tupac Shakur’s ‘All Eyez On Me’. The young man from Louisville, Kentucky, the fourteenth overall pick of the 2015 draft, remains dogged by unfulfilled expectations, not the least of which is probably his own. He has been, by any measure, a disappointment thus far, and he’d probably tell you as much himself. It’s not necessarily that 139 receptions for 1,908 yards and eight touchdowns are a bad thing, but you’d like to see that career total coming over two seasons, rather than the three that it’s taken him to amass those numbers.

Blessed with rare size, speed, and athletic ability, Parker has just never seemed to be able to put it all together and become the true number one receiver that the Dolphins envisioned him becoming when they drafted him. The Spring of 2015 was a tough time for me as a Dolphin fan; everybody, and I mean everybody, had Miami taking Parker in the weeks leading up to the draft. When you went to NFL.com, and they had four columnists making their predictions for who the Dolphins would take, every one of them had Parker as the pick. I could have understood the buzz surrounding Parker if the Dolphins were drafting higher, say, in the top seven to ten picks or so. But at fourteen, the question that begged to be asked was, if he was that good, then why weren’t any of the teams that were picking ahead of Miami thinking about selecting him? As I warned at the time, whenever there is a ‘feeding frenzy’ at a particular position in the first round, with multiple players at the same position being selected, you know that not all of those guys are going to pan out. We saw this at linebacker and running back in 1990, at quarterback in 1999 and in 2000, no less than five wide receivers were selected in the first round. Not one of those receivers made even a single Pro Bowl during his career.

With so many teams hitting big on wideouts in 2014 -- two from round one and three more from round two that year have already made the Pro Bowl -- the prevailing assumption in 2015 was that there would be a similar number attaining star status from that draft, as well. To this point, however, only Amari Cooper, who went fourth overall to the Raiders, and Tyler Lockett, who went 69th, to Seattle, have qualified for the NFL’s version of the All-Star game.

Still, there is hope that Parker will finally take that proverbial next step that the team and Dolphin fans everywhere are fervently hoping that he will take. If he can stay healthy and bring a little more heart and grit with him when comes onto the field, there is no reason why DeVante Parker cannot still become a bona fide superstar. He has all the tools, and another year in head coach Adam Gase’s offense should allow him to do less thinking and more reacting this season. Although I obviously wasn’t thrilled with the selection of Parker at the time, looking back now, there really wasn’t anyone else available at that spot, that had a first-round grade on him that would have been much better. Some on this site advocated trading up to take Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, who went fifth overall to the Redskins. Trading up that high would have been costly, but Scherff has already been to two Pro Bowls, and will probably go to several more in the future. For the time being, Parker is a Miami Dolphin; here’s to hoping he emphatically justifies his draft status this season and goes on to have a prolific career in Miami.

The other thing that I want to talk about is the ongoing situation with the anthem protests. How can I go about this without upsetting too many people? Me being me, that’s always a challenge. I have a few observations here. First and foremost, both sides have legitimate arguments. That being said, there is a time and a place for everything. As anyone who doesn’t live in a cave probably knows, the reason the league implemented the new rule regarding the protesters is very simple: the protests were negatively affecting their bottom line, in terms of ratings and advertising revenue. Whether we like it or not, employers can stipulate what kind of conduct and activities can go on in the workplace. Not only that but with the obsessive media coverage the kneelers were receiving, it was beginning to become a distraction. The way I see it, the new rule the league passed is not too dissimilar from our own editors here at the Phinsider prohibiting the discussion of politics or religion on this site. This is a football site and we’re here to talk about football. Fans go to a football game or tune in to watch it on television because they want to watch football. None of this is to suggest that I don’t think there are problems that need to be addressed. I just happen to be of the opinion that there is a time and a place for everything.

Ultimately, I believe that this situation has gotten out of hand largely as a result of the media. It’s an unfortunate truth that there are far, far more profits to be made by way of division than there are through unity. When we go to CNN’s or Fox News’ site and try to beat each other senseless in the comments section, this drives more traffic and thus, more money, to them. It’s human nature to highlight, even obsess, over our differences. This often referred to as ‘tribalism’. ‘Either you’re with us or you’re against us’. When I’m standing in line at the supermarket, I can look at the guy in front of me and just by looking at the way he’s dressed, what kind of vehicle he got out of, probably make a pretty good guess as to his political leanings. Here’s what’s so amazing, though. Regardless whether that guy is Black, Asian or whatever, if I’m in a bad accident and need blood, if we have the same type, the very blood that runs through his veins could save my life.

The only advice I would give regarding this matter is, don’t take the bait. When someone says something that you don’t necessarily agree with, let it go. Don’t take the bait. The definition of ‘energy’ is ‘the ability to do work’. When we devote unnecessary energy to worrying about what someone else says, or thinks, all that does is to leave us with less energy to accomplish whatever else we have to worry about that day. Over the coming months, as we approach the start of the long-anticipated regular season, you will be presented with numerous opportunities to avoid the taking the bait that someone has decided to place in front of you. I encourage you to take advantage of every single one of those opportunities not to take the bait.