CFF Player Profile: DeVante Parker, WR
Though we think Amari Cooper is the clear cut No. 1 wide receiver in this draft class, the player hot on his heels isn’t Kevin White – who many have as the best prospect out there – but rather DeVante Parker from Louisville.
Parker missed time in 2014, playing just 359 snaps across six games, but his production in those games was mind-blowing. He earned a comparable receiving grade on the season to Jaelen Strong despite playing fewer than half the snaps. His grade was good enough to rank inside the Top 10 among all WR’s in the FBS (seventh among draft eligible WR’s) and he averaged almost 20 yards per reception (19.9).
Over a full season his production would have been off the charts and a real rival to Amari Cooper’s FBS-leading pace. Amari Cooper led draft eligible WR’s with 3.97 Yards Per Route Run looking at players with a large number of targets, but when you reduce the targets to fifty or more DeVante Parker jumps above him with a YPRR figure of 4.21. Interestingly, one of the true sleepers in this draft – Georgia Tech’s DeAndre Smelter – led all draft eligible WR’s with 4.36).
Parker’s numbers would have been mind-blowing had he been healthy all season long, which is especially important to note because one of the knocks on Parker has been his relative lack of college production.
While everybody loves Kevin White’s potential ceiling and Amari Cooper just has very few flaws to his game, Parker absolutely belongs in the conversation with those two and in our eyes is a far more accomplished receiver right now than White is.
He can struggle if a cornerback gets into his chest on the jam, really laboring to disengage and get into his pattern. However, the number of times that actually happens in a game makes it a very minor problem. His quickness and footwork at the line is so good at defeating the jam that a cornerback in press rarely gets anywhere near his pads.
He only really seems to have one move to defeat that press coverage at the line (I very rarely saw him release in a different way, though he did occasionally break it out), but that move works with frightening regularity. It looks like a defender should be able to key in on it and snuff it out. However, but Parker routinely beats the same guy with the same move in the same game over and over to prevent them getting hands on him.
For a guy of his size (6-foot-3, 209 pounds) he moves incredibly well, and his suddenness in his routes allow him to snap open in a single step when he makes his break.
He dropped just two of the 75 passes sent his way and forced 15 missed tackles from defenders, which is another number that would have put him at the top of the FBS had he been healthy for the entire season. While Kevin White ran a pretty spartan looking route tree at West Virginia, Parker was far closer to Cooper in terms of running a complete route tree, and was visibly far closer in terms of polish and refinement to his game.
Parker’s injury this season means we have less data on him than the other top wide receiver prospects, but the data we do have provides a tantalizing glimpse at a player that is seen as a sure fire first round pick by everybody and yet still may be underrated by most. He should be a sure fire top ten pick and could provide a steal for some team while the rest of the draft loses their mind at the prospect of what Kevin White can become if he realizes his potential.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam