DeVante Parker had a huge junior year as he and quarterback and first round pick Teddy Bridgewater had a symbiotic relationship that produced big results and led the team to a productive year. While Bridgewater declared for the NFL Draft, Parker stayed at Louisville his senior year and though missed time due to a broken bone in his foot, he was able to have a ton of production in half a season and help distinguish himself as a player.
As a senior and under new head coach Bobby Petrino, Parker became a focal point in the Cardinals’ offensive attack and they moved him all over their formations. Mostly outside but occasionally in the slot, catching screens and running a professional route tree, they worked to get the ball in his hands at all different levels of the field. The extra year really enabled Parker to show how dangerous he could be as a runner after the catch and he was able to rack up 855 yards in just six games.
Vitals & Build
- Born January 20, 1993 (22 years old)
- 6’3 209lbs (NFL Combine)
- Arm Length: 33 1/4″
- Hand Size: 9 1/4″
Parker has a good sized frame for the position with long arms. His strength can improve but at times he will display far more power than people might think, but does not consistently play to it. Parker has great feet and body control with excellent agility and good long speed. He has displayed a good amount of balance as well. There is still physical potential to add muscle, especially in his upper body but he is far more lean than he is thin.
Route Running & Technique
Parker’s stance is excellent and he consistently gets off of the ball and into his route with little wasted motion, allowing him to get on top of the defensive back almost immediately putting them at a disadvantage.
- Comes off of the line with nearly all of his motion going forward.
The way he comes off of the line of scrimmage and how quick he is with his footwork makes it difficult for opponents to press him.
- The defender makes a late move to play press man, but is unable to get a hand on Parker.
Parker has excellent feet and body control, so he is able to get in and out of breaks efficiently, ranging from 45 degree cuts to cutback type routes that require a full change of direction. He has shown the ability to create space, which has not only enabled him to get open and make the catch but also opens up opportunities for yards after the catch.
- Parker makes a quick move to get the defender to bite outside creating a ton of space for him on the slant route enabling him to pick up 14 yards on 3rd and 7.
Occasionally, Parker will show a high level of awareness on how to play the opponent to create that separation and give his quarterback an easier throw to make a play. If he can do this more consistently, it will really open up how dangerous he can be as a route runner.
- Parker works the defender inside, feels him over commit his shoulders inside and pushes back outside for a wide open catch.
That awareness carries over into his ability to read and find holes in zone coverage. He has become reliable in terms of being able to get in a spot where the quarterback can get him the football; at times it looked like it was too easy, causing teams to go away from it.
The issue with Parker is consistency. He has shown he can be a good route runner that can cause problems for defenders and create a ton of space. However, Parker will occasionally tip his routes, allowing defenders to get in position early or substantially reduce the amount of separation he might have. Also, Parker has a few moves he really likes to use and later in the season, some opponents defensive backs tried to sit on that move with varying levels of success.
- Parker wants to use an outside plant to set up an inside move but the opponent is sitting on the move and is able to be right on it and break up the play.
If he can be more focused and disciplined in running routes well in addition to a little more variance in how he chooses to run his routes, he will that much more difficult to cover as he goes into the next level. He may have a difficult time early in training camp if defenders find him to be predictable, but if he puts in the work and adapts, this part of his game could really take off and make him a far more polished player.
Parker has shown to be a pretty reliable pass catcher. Occasionally, he will let some passes get into his body, but he is comfortable snatching the ball with his hands away from his body as it enables him to get into run after the catch quicker, which is where he thrives the most. There are some drops but for the most part, he has shown some strong hands that enable him to secure passes quickly.
Parker’s catch radius is good. He can catch passes away from his body and does a nice job of going up and high pointing passes in the air. In some respects, Parker almost makes some of his better catches look routine so that it can appear as though his catch radius is smaller than it is. The only passes he really not showing he can catch routinely are spectacular circus catches. He shows excellent flexibility and specifically in his hips so that he can adjust to passes underneath on deep passes or behind him on crossing and sideline routes.
- Parker does a nice job of flipping his hips and reaching out to catch this back shoulder throw.
Parker does a great job of high pointing passes and makes them look much easier than some of them truly are. He does not have the broadest build but he does take advantage of what he does have and will shield opponents from plays, both cutting underneath on them as well as boxing them out on deep balls. Parker is a player who will push the envelope when it comes to using his arms to create space, but he is not afraid to be physical with opposing defenders.
- Parker times his jump beautifully and is able to contort his body so he is going further down the field and cruises in for the easy touchdown.
In that same vein, Parker has a tendency to get under some opponents’ skin as the game wears on, so he has to be somewhat accustomed to making plays through contact. He can get separation but he has a good sense on when he is going to take a shot and is not often caught by surprised. At times, it can work to his benefit as he is able to react quickly enough to get more yardage. One thing that is clear with Parker is that he is fearless and will go into situations where he knows he is going to take a big shot and do his best to make the play.
- On this double slant combination, Parker is able to secure the catch for the first down as he takes a shot from the defender.
The passes that give Parker the most difficulty are typically low, however he does have some drops that are higher. The common thread with the drops that are on higher passes is that they tend to come on plays where Parker is trying to keep his route going and maintain his speed after the catch. As a result, when the pass is an awkward spot and he does not adjust, he can end up tipping the ball up, which has resulted in a couple interceptions. This is not a huge issue and he just needs to be able to slow down slightly on some of these types of passes, but it is not a technical issue or failing of his hands that is should dissuade anyone from picking Parker.
Run After Catch
Parker is a dynamic threat after the catch between his athleticism and power. Partly because of making catches on the move and screen passes, Parker has become adept at making a smooth transition from the catch to runner. Especially in his senior year where there were a number of situations where Parker caught the ball with a man bearing down on him or in his face and it was either make them miss or get killed. His quick feet and ability to anticipate contact have enabled him to make opponents miss as he secures the football.
- Parker is able to use great footwork to make multiple defenders miss and take the quick screen 23 yards.
Parker has excellent speed and quickness, so he can be a big play threat on those assets, but he displays a lot of power that does not appears anywhere in his game. He is not afraid of contact, can fight through arm tackles and maintain his balance to keep plays alive and make good plays into huge plays. Parker is also not afraid to lower his shoulder to fight for extra yards or stiff arm an opponent as he fights for extra yards.
- Parker catches the pass on the hitch, but is able to maintain his balance, tight rope the sideline and take a 7 yard pass and get a first down on 1st and 20.
While he will step out of bounds if he does not see a path to get more yardage, Parker is aggressive, willing to cut back into the middle of the field or across it if he thinks he can continue getting yardage and potentially break a big play. Parker is a player that is extremely comfortable with the ball in his hands and his ability after the catch makes him a far more attractive as a prospect overall.
Parker is an average blocker, but not exactly a passionate one. For the most part, he is satisfied to mirror and shield opponent from the play but really does not show a lot of power. His natural length and reach is extremely beneficial for him in this area. Perhaps he is worried about falling off of the block, but he just seems to want to have enough control where he can ensure his guy will not make the play, which is certainly not a bad thing. He does need to be more aggressive and consistent with his effort at times though as he will occasionally get overpowered or simply not get to the block his assignment demands.
A combination of additional physical strength and simply being more interested and passionate as a blocker should make a substantial difference in the results. The personal investment part of the equation is the far bigger question, but while Parker is not a great blocker, he will at least get in the way of the opponent.
Parker is a pretty scheme versatile receiver that can line up in the slot or on the outside. He has done a little bit of everything during his collegiate career, so he can be a deep threat that can run comebacks and outside passes while being able to attack the middle of the field, whether it be on drags, slants or post type routes.
When it comes to where Parker would fit best though, it is in a horizontal timing offense that naturally gets the ball to Parker when he is on the move and creates opportunities for him after the catch, where he is perhaps at his most dangerous. If a more vertically based team takes him, it might be smart for them to manufacture some of these opportunities just to try to maximize what Parker offers a team.
Parker has the potential to become a #1 receiving threat at the next level, but he might be ideally suited as a high end #2 that can win in a number of different ways for a team. Especially early in his career, he could benefit from not having a ton of pressure on him to beat the opponent’s top corner and have the opportunity to gain confidence as well as enabling his team the ability to be creative with how they want to use him.
DeVante Parker is a player that could be special in the NFL if put into the right situation that can maximize his ability after the catch. There are some issues with consistency and just further polishing his game with a focus on details as well as becoming a better blocker, but the floor appears to be relatively high. Parker warrants a first round grade, but in a normal draft, might slip to the early second round. In this class, he could easily end up going in the early teens.