BBD Editor: Dan Hope
Overshadowed by both his quarterback and other players at his position, Louisville junior wide receiver DeVante Parker has not yet gotten the attention he deserves as a 2014 NFL draft prospect.
It is understandable why Parker hasn’t taken the spotlight in the preseason buildup to the upcoming college football season. His quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, could be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft. At the wide receiver position, there are some very talented players who could factor into the high picks of the 2014 draft including USC junior Marqise Lee, Clemson junior Sammy Watkins and Vanderbilt senior Jordan Matthews.
Overlooking Parker, however, would be a mistake. He is a very talented receiver with star potential, and could easily end up as a first-round selection should he have a breakout junior season and declare for the 2014 draft.
When you watch Louisville this season, it’s going to be tempting just to pay attention to Bridgewater throwing the ball. Let’s take a look at why you should also focus on Parker catching the ball.
Why Parker is a Potential First-Round Pick
Parker is a true big-play receiver. He can beat coverages deep, extend plays with his open-field running ability and make spectacular plays on the football.
Parker has the measurables scouts look for in a No. 1 wideout. He has very good size, listed at 6’3” and 209 pounds by Louisville’s official website. He is an explosive athlete who accelerates quickly off the line and displays the deep speed to run away from defensive backs.
He is very good at faking out his opponent with a double move off the line. When he does so effectively and gets a step on a defensive back, he is often off to the races with his speed.
An example of his deep-threat receiving ability came on the following 75-yard receiving touchdown versus Pittsburgh last season.
In addition to beating receivers deep, Parker can also create big plays in the open field. He does a great job accelerating through a play to run away from defenders. He also has good open-field quickness for a receiver of his size, and displays the ability to make receivers miss with cuts.
The 64-yard touchdown below versus Cincinnati is an example of Parker’s open-field playmaking ability. After catching a short pass, Parker made a defender miss with a shimmy move and stiff arm, then outran the defense diagonally across the field to reach the end zone.
The most impressive part of Parker’s game is his ability to adjust to the football, maintain body control and extend for spectacular catches. He created jaw-dropping highlights throughout his sophomore season that displayed the potential he has to make plays on the football.
Parker does a good job both coming back to an underthrown football and reaching out for an overthrown football. He uses his length well to extend his catching radius out well away from his body.
The following play, also versus Pittsburgh, is an example of Parker adjusting back to an underthrown football by leaping up against tight coverage, turning around and making a hands catch in front of his body for a crucial big gain late in the first half.