Devante Parker enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a successful career as the go-to-guy for the Louisville Cardinals. His 2014 season got off to a rocky start, as he suffered a broken bone in his left foot prior to opening weekend. He missed seven games as a result of the injury. In the six games that Parker suited up, he totaled 43 catches, 855 yards and 5 TDs. In 2013, Parker started 12 games and hauled in 55 receptions, 885 yards and tied a school recored with 12 TDs. He finished First Team All-AAC that year. For his career, Parker managed 156 catches, 2,775 yards and 33 TDs. Physically, Parker is a good looking receiver at 6’3″ and nearly 210 lbs. His weight is deceptive, as he presents as a long and rangy receiver; he’s likely to bulk up a bit as he matures into his NFL body. His long arms provide for an exceptional catch radius that will be difficult for his quarterback to miss. Athletically, Parker possesses very good movement skills and quick feet for a guy with his length. His footwork off the LOS is exceptional, as he keeps the corner on his heels and forces him to open his hips much sooner than he should. He has good enough speed and explosiveness to complement his frame, although he’s not a guy that will consistently run by defenders in the deep passing game. He’s more likely to be an intermediate route guy who will use his size and very good hands to secure chain-moving passes. As a route runner, Parker releases off the LOS like a savvy veteran showing good hand play that complements his above-referenced feet; he’s a handful for even the most experienced man-to-man cover corner. He’s sharp into and out of his breaks, and uses his big frame to box out the defender for contested balls. Parker has very good hands; he plucks the ball away from his frame which allows him to be “open” even when he can’t shake the corner from his hip. After the catch, Parker displays better than expected wiggle and makes the most out of the yards in front of him. He has very good balance and sideline awareness; defenders will have to wrap up as he has the power and balance to break arm tackles and keep pressing forward. I’d like to see Parker give more effort when climbing the ladder, though, as there were several times on tape that he could have gone after the ball a little harder. In the run game, Parker is more of an obstacle than an effective blocker. He gives an average level of effort to complete a block.
BOTTOM LINE: Devante Parker is one of the top receiver prospects for the 2015 NFL Draft. He’s a quality player who produced in 2014 despite having a new quarterback and an injury to overcome. His per-game production was better than when he had the luxury of Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings) throwing him the ball, which is an indicator that he can succeed regardless of challenging circumstances. Parker’s size, natural athleticism and well-developed receiver skill set suggests that he will be a very good starting wide receiver in the NFL that is capable of being a go-to-guy on all three levels of the passing game. He’s a solid value in round one.
GRADE: 8.0 (1st Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)