It was a jarring or confusing season…or I don’t know what it was in 2015 with DeVante Parker. Pre-draft, I rode with the mainstream. Parker looked fine to me on tape, in his limited final 2014 season. The measurables came in solidly. I wasn’t enamored, but everything came up so positive with no negatives – it appeared that Parker was a ‘can’t miss’ prospect.
I think I missed something.
Either that or I’m going to be on the opposite side of the street in 2016, the wrong side of the trade…because the rest of football society sees a looming star, a sweet sleeper for Fantasy 2016. However, I do not like what I see with DeVante Parker on tape (in the NFL) at all.
I mentioned this shock/disgust right away last year, and was kind of bombastic about it. I was in Parker’s corner before the draft, and his arrival to Miami seemed OK enough, but the first time I saw him play in an NFL game I was disappointed, and I pointed it out. After giving him a few more games to work it out – I didn’t see a big change. Pretty quickly, I turned on DeVante Parker in 2015.
But I had my doubts. I wondered if I could be wrong. I mean, he graded out OK in our pre-draft computer models. I didn’t catch anything wrong on tape with him at Louisville. Was I seeing things? Look at his numbers in games late in the year with Miami in 2015 – they’re not that bad at all. With an offseason to sleep on it, I decided to restudy Parker’s 2015 this summer. Perhaps, I would see something with ‘new eyes’.
I know I’m the metrics guy. I’m supposed to lay out a case with statistical data to back up my hypothesis. It’s the prudent thing to do. However, I’m just gonna let you have it between the eyes the way that I see it – something is wrong with DeVante Parker. I can see it on the tape, and it’s totally turning me off from trusting him in fantasy football. Ignore the 2015 end of season number spike…it’s not valid here, I think.
Now, I’m sure I’m probably going to get burned by this decision. Not burned because I am technically wrong, but burned because I think he’s in a category of wide receiver that I despise…a gray area, if you will. Two similar-to-Parker wide receivers I despise are Terrance Williams and Donte Moncrief. Taller, lanky, frail, nonphysical wide receivers who can catch a football, but who are incredibly limited for what they bring to an offense. They have the athleticism to get open, and they’ll have a nice statistical game or two or three, but in and of themselves they are not stars – they are surviving because other receivers are taking the best coverage heat, and they’re working with a great quarterback. Last year, when Dallas lost Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, it’s like Terrance Williams didn’t even exist. Ditto, to a lesser degree, Donte Moncrief without Andrew Luck.
I think DeVante Parker fits in that same category I’ve made up in my head. Good enough to be on an NFL field, but not a star receiver. He might have star Fantasy numbers for a week or five (because they have a string of TDs in games), but over time you’re not possessing the next Odell Beckham or Amari Cooper or Jordan Matthews or T.Y. Hilton, etc. you’re getting a WR3 situation/circumstantial talent who has occasional WR2/WR1 moments because of the surrounding advantages. I don’t know why these types of receivers offend my senses so.
Let me explain…
I went back and watched every one of DeVante Parker’s targets from 2015. I also watched several of his non-targets – him just running routes. Here’s the deal in a nutshell: He’s soft. S-A-W-F-T.
It’s worse than the physical imagery that ‘soft’ label conjures up because he gives very weak/limited effort with his timid play as well. Remember this: the two coaches Miami had last year were not big fans. One of the reasons Joe Philbin was fired was him not wanting to put Parker on the field more. Dan Campbell gave him more time, but didn’t feature him…at all. Parker would go long stretches of time in games without a target/catch.
Here’s a quick backup on my claims that Parker was getting snubbed, and that this caused organizational angst. Link: MiamiHerald: The Battle to Play DeVante Parker
The Week 16 game in 2015 against Indy, to me, is the example of Parker I cannot shake out of my head. He must have been outfought for ‘up for grabs’ throws 3–4 times. Vontae Davis boxed him out of a 9-yards-away alley-oop play into the end zone, and the ball was underthrown. Parker had plenty of time to react to the underthrow to at least try to make a play on the ball/knock the ball away from Davis. Instead, you could see the replay in slow-mo…Parker is just sitting there a few feet behind Davis, as Parker just watched the floater land in Davis’s hands as if it were happening on TV in his living room. It was the easiest INT a cornerback had in the NFL in 2015. Parker probably could have prevented it. It would have been nice had Parker even tried to pretend to prevent it. Later, on a two-point conversion, another end-zone shot…Parker is just boxed out of the way again, and the corner picks the pass off easily. Once again, Parker is safely behind the defender giving low effort.
Here’s a Week 16 video recap of the Colts-Dolphins (link below)…
Check out four things:
1: (1:01 mark) Parker makes a long catch downfield…he’s covered step-for-step, the DB stumbles, the ball is underthrown (classic Tannehill), and Parker adjusts – long catch credited, nothing wonderful created by Parker.
2: (1:22) The Vontae Davis INT. Watch this, and then watch again only staring at Parker; never take your eyes off Parker. It will make you sick to your stomach. I see this slumped-shoulder effort on most of his plays.
3: (1:33) Random…Watch a hell of a downfield catch by RB Damien Williams, a better receiver over-the-middle than Parker. I’m telling you…watch Williams this season.
4: (3.04) Watch, and marvel, at the Jarvis Landry catch. Then, re-watch where Parker is during all this…he’s wide-open and Tannehill prefers to throw into triple coverage to Landry because it’s a critical time. Telling.
Highlight video: IND-MIA Week 16 highlights
Parker loves jumping for passes. He looks cool doing it…and I think this head-fake’s scouts into loving him. When he leaps, he’s away from human contact. He hates catching passes near anyone. In coverage, he either gets easily covered with low effort OR the DB knocks the pass away…or he makes the catch and goes down easily. Jeb Bush would say that DeVante Parker has ‘low energy’, and I think that’s what the coaches saw last year…and thus the in-fighting with the GM.
So how did Parker post 19.0 yards per catch and four 80+ yard efforts in his final six games last season? Hell if I know. Honestly, I have no idea. Consider that he caught six passes that went for 30 or more yards last season…three of them when down 18 or more points in the game. Two of those three in the final minutes of blowouts. Parker is a good ‘throw it up for grabs guy’, especially when the defense is in a prevent. Parker works downfield because he’s garbage up close/in traffic…so his catches will typically happen 10+ yards down the field.
Considering Miami will likely face a lot of prevent defenses this year, and thus throw a ton, and Parker will be on the field – he’ll get numbers. He’s not incompetent. He’s just not a star in the making…and he’s going to be the type of wide receiver the team just allows to walk into free agency, because ‘they know‘.
Perhaps Parker has a nice Fantasy 2016. I wouldn’t rule that out. I’m just telling you, from what I see, you don’t want to hold this card long term. This is not a play like Jordan Matthews, Brandin Cooks, Sammy Watkins – established 2014 guys. He’s not anything near Amari Cooper among the 2015 guys. Long term, I guarantee Tyler Lockett will be more FF-valuable. In 2016, Parker might beat Lockett for FF numbers…but watch what happens from mid-2016 on through 2020+.
As your advisor, I advise you to sell. I see trouble. I see a weak organization. I see a guy who might prefer to miss a week here and there with a minor injury, rather than fighting to get on the field. If I see a different DeVante Parker in the 2016 preseason, I’ll let you know. Wide receivers from this era are walking in from college and dominating as rookies, impressing the team and fans from the jump. Parker couldn’t get on the field/starting lineup right away his rookie season, and then set off an issue between team management on whether he should see more time or not.
Something stinks, something doesn’t feel right here…
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