We’ll take a daily look at some of the most talked about prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft and tell you whether they’re worth the hype or not.
We’ve already looked at one wide receiver, Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman, during this series. We shift our attention now to another high-profile receiving prospect that many Vikings fans want, Louisville’s DeVante Parker.
He’s been linked with the Vikings in a number of mock drafts, mainly due to his ties with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at Louisville. Of course, rarely does the most popular pick among mock draft analysts actually turn out to be the team’s selection on draft night, but it’s nice to dream, right?
Parker is listed at 6-3 and 209 pounds. He’s viewed as one of the best wide receivers in this draft. His father, Anthony Shelman, played running at Louisville from 1991-94.
By The Numbers:
Freshman (11 games): 18 receptions, 291 yards, six touchdowns
Sophomore (13 games): 40 receptions, 744 yards, 10 touchdowns
Junior (12 games): 55 receptions, 885 yards, 12 touchdowns
Senior (seven games): 43 receptions, 855 yards, five touchdowns
Parker missed seven games due to a foot injury last year, but he was extremely productive once he returned to earn second-team All-ACC honors. He snagged 33 touchdowns in 43 games and tied the school’s single season touchdown record as a junior. He was, without a doubt, a playmaker in college.
NFL Combine/Pro Day results:
40-yard dash: 4.45 seconds
Bench press (225 pounds): 17 reps
Vertical: 36.5 inches
Broad jump: 10 feet, five inches
Parker didn’t post any eye-popping measurements at the NFL Combine, but there wasn’t too many surprises either. It was interesting to note that his vertical was the 19th best among wide receivers at the combine.
He may not be good at jumping in compression apparel, but the film shows that he’s really good at jump balls and challenging catches.
There are many things that I like about Parker. He’s also really good at racking up yards after the catch and using his thin frame to slip away from tackles. And most importantly, Parker is a flat out playmaker. It doesn’t matter if it was Bridgewater or Kyle Bolin behind center, you had to account for Parker.
And if you didn’t, he made you pay.
And this is when I’ll upset a lot of people, though I do like Parker and think he’ll have a solid career in the NFL as long as he stays healthy. I just don’t think he’s a No. 1 receiver in the NFL.
Let me explain!
First off, Parker needs to gain weight. He’s not strong enough to handle press coverages in the NFL. When you watch his highlights, Parker faced a lot of cornerbacks playing about five yards off the line of scrimmage. Parker took advantage of it, running a lot of underneath routes and gaining more yards after the catch. It likely explains why he’s second among receivers in this draft averaging 4.21 yards per route run, per Pro Football Focus.
Whether it’s due to his foot or just his thin frame, Parker had a tough time gaining separation against press coverages.
Parker also needs to work on his route running. He tends to get sloppy at times with his routes, but that’s an area pretty much everyone-not-named Amari Cooper will need to work on at the next level.
There’s only three wide receivers I think that have the capability of becoming a No. 1 receiver – Cooper, West Virginia’s Kevin White and Oklahoma’s Dorial Green-Beckham. Cooper is the best receiver in this draft by far. White and Green-Beckham have the potential to become No. 1 receivers, but it will take time for both to develop.
I have Parker as my fourth best receiver in this draft, behind Cooper, White and Arizona State’s Jaelen Strong, who will also be a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL. While I like Parker, I gave Strong the slight edge because of his hands, toughness and physicality. He’s raw but had two good seasons at Arizona State with a terrible quarterback. Strong, like Parker, will need to work on his route running.
Parker is without question worthy of a first round pick. He’s a top 20 talent in this class that should get picked in the middle of the first round and will have a long career. I’m just not buying that he’s a No. 1 receiver in the NFL, and I don’t think the Vikings should take a receiver in the first round unless Cooper magically falls at No. 11.
Verdict: He’ll be the truth as a No. 2 receiver. Will Parker develop into a No. 1 receiver? Don’t believe the hype.