2014 NFL Draft: Pre-Season Breakdown – DeVante Parker, WR Louisville

Apr 13, 2013; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals Red Team wide receiver DeVante Parker (9) runs the ball against the White Team during the spring game at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Teddy Bridgewater is not afraid to spread the wealth at Louisville and as they had five players with between 36 and 50 receptions last season.  Their leader in yards and receiving touchdowns and the wide receiver with perhaps the best future in the NFL could be DeVante Parker.  During his sophomore campaign, Parker caught 40 passes for 744 yards and 10 touchdowns, which is a ridiculous ratio of catches to touchdowns.

Parker has a chance to really step up this season as the best and most reliable weapon for Bridgewater, but he has some work to do, especially when it comes to catching the football consistently.  He seems to have an ability to create separation and finding ways to get open.  With a quarterback like Bridgewater, if a guy like Parker can get open, Bridgewater will get the ball to him.  Parker is still only a junior and has a lot of time to develop but appears to be a day three prospect based on last season but could take a big step forward this season,

Vitals & Build

Parker is listed at 6’3” 205lbs with a solid build for the receiver position.  He has quick feet and is able to work in small areas with enough speed to stretch the field.  Parker also has solid functional strength for the position and will likely only get stronger with time.  He also possesses good vision as an open field runner.  Despite his weight, he is still relatively lean so he could still continue adding strength and end up a powerhouse at the position in addition to having good speed, so the potential is there for him to get much better physically.

Route Running & Technique

Parker’s stance is decent but it runs into issues.  When Parker is uncovered, he gets off the line cleanly and with only a slight bounce.  The times when a defender is over the top of Parker, his release gets sloppy.  He reacts by usually having his back feet as his first step to get underneath him before making a move and really getting off the line.  There are also times when he will take a short jab step with his front foot and then have his back foot gather under him.  Neither is good and they need to be corrected.  He needs to adjust his stance so he can make his first step be a productive one, which would likely mean for him to move his back foot further under him so he can take a legitimate step with either foot and make a football move.  If not corrected, this could be a bigger issue going forward, especially if he is playing against press coverage.

Despite a poor initial release, Parker’s feet are quick and he is able to keep defenders off balance and create openings to get open.  He has good acceleration with the ability to get over the top of defensive backs quickly.  If he can clean up his stance, this will only happen that much quicker and he will look faster for opponents making it more difficult to adjust.  Parker is smart enough to mix up how he comes off the ball and is comfortable attacking inside or outside.

Parker has good feet and the strength to plant his foot in the ground and cut to get open.  Occasionally, he will get off balance, but that should improve with more experience and reps.  For a receiver his size, he shows a lot of potential to be a precise route runner.

Hands

This is the area where Parker is the most frustrating.  He is not afraid to catch the ball with his hands and can snag it out of the air cleanly at times.  In addition to some straight drops, Parker will double catch or bobble a frustrating number of passes and there have been multiple occasions where plays were ruled incomplete or were far more dramatic than needed to be simply because he could not catch the ball the first time.  Juxtapose that with the fact that Parker also has shown to be able to make some spectacular catches as well that would be difficult for some of the best pass catchers.

Continuing to add strength in his hands and forearms and clamp onto the ball should help as should improving his concentration, but it is an area that needs to be cleaned up for him to be a reliable target in the Louisville offense.  There are times where it seems like Parker catches the ball better on pure instinct with almost no time to adjust than it is for him to catch passes he can see coming from a distance.

His catch radius has the potential to be huge with his wingspan and how he is able to go up and catch the football.  Parker is able to go up and high point the football and go out and get the long ball.  The potential is there for him to be a great pass catcher but his consistency in that respect can be infuriating.

Run After Catch

Parker is a threat with the ball in his hands as he is deceptively fast and is able to slip tackles and keep running down the field.  He may not have elite speed but he has enough where he can do damage after the catch and take big plays all the way.  His vision is good and he is able to maneuver himself into running lanes without making dramatic cuts, so he makes subtle moves to get away from tackles yards out in front of him.

Parker is able to catch the ball and transition relatively quickly to running after the catch.  He does not waste much motion when he catches the ball in stride and he is quick enough where he is able to catch the ball coming back to the quarterback and then make a move to continue gaining positive yards.  It remains to be seen if he can continue with that in the NFL, but his quickness is good enough where it seems like he could.

System Fit

Parker might be better suited for a more vertical offense because of his size and strength, but if he can become a consistent pass catcher, his feet and quickness combined with his ability after the catch could make him extremely attractive to horizontal offenses as well.  He shows a lot of ability to be scheme diverse but it is all about consistency with his game and cleaning up some of the areas he needs to work.

2013 Schedule

Sun, Sept. 1 vs. Ohio
Sat, Sept. 7 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sat, Sept. 14 at Kentucky
Sat, Sept. 21 vs. Florida International
Sat, Oct. 5 at Temple
Thu, Oct. 10 vs. Rutgers
Fri, Oct. 18 vs. Central Florida
Sat, Oct. 26 at South Florida
Fri, Nov. 8 at Connecticut
Sat, Nov. 16 vs. Houston
Sat, Nov. 23 vs. Memphis
Thu, Dec. 5 at Cincinnati

Notable Games

The slate for Louisville is extremely reasonable and they should be able to flirt with running the table, but Kentucky should be a good matchup.  Not only is it an in state rival, but an SEC opponent on the road, so Parker will have an opportunity to show that he is ready for the big stage and have a big game.  The game against Connecticut on the road in Storrs is big for Louisville since the Huskies were one of the two teams that were able to knock off Louisville last year.  Louisville is looking for revenge but Connecticut has been able to put together talented defenses and they will have to win on the road.  The regular season finale is a nationally televised game on the road against the Bearcats in Tommy Tuberville’s first season with the program.  Cincinnati is looking to build a talented offense and this could turn into a prime time shootout between the two teams.

NFL Comparison

Right now, Parker’s game is somewhat similar to that of James Jones of the Green Bay Packers.  Both Jones and Parker are able to make big plays and score a lot of touchdowns but have a frustrating amount of drops and are productive in part because both are paired with fantastic quarterbacks.  Jones and Parker also have similar builds for the position, though Parker is a little taller.

Draft Projection

Athletically, DeVante Parker is extremely impressive.  He shows the makings of a good wide receiver and being paired with Bridgewater certainly does not hurt.  Parker shows signs of a solid route runner and someone who could be a great pass catcher, but he has inconsistencies to iron out in both areas, especially when it comes to his hands.  Based on his sophomore film, he looks like he is just outside of the top 100, but this could be the year he takes a big step forward and really has a breakout year for Louisville and his draft stock could make a huge jump as a result.

Topics: 2014 Mock Draft, 2014 NFL Draft, DeVante Parker, Louisville Cardinals Football, Wide Receivers

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