Believe it or not, local high school football legend and former University of Louisville superstar, DeVante Parker, will be entering his fourth NFL season with the Miami Dolphins in 2018. While many people, including myself, had extremely high expectations for Parker in his first three professional seasons, the results have unfortunately fallen well short. However, with a clean bill of health and three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, Jarvis Landry, shipped off to Cleveland, this could finally be the year Parker has a breakout campaign.
For a little bit of a background story, Miami will be relying on three main receivers to carry the load and bring the AFC East title back to South Beach in 2018 – Danny Amendola, Kenny Stills, and DeVante Parker. Not to mention, with starting quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, returning from a torn ACL, the Dolphins’ offensive attack is finally back at full-force just in time for training camp. For DeVante Parker-fanatics and Miami fans alike, that fact should be very exciting.
Still, even though Miami is finally getting back a clean bill of health for their entire offense, Parker’s chances of becoming “the guy” in the Dolphins’ offense can be mainly attributed to Jarvis Landry getting traded to the Cleveland Browns back in March.
To understand just how much the Dolphins utilized Landry in 2017, you should know the former LSU star was targeted a total of 161 times, which was 56 more than any other wideout on Miami’s roster. Not to mention, his 112 receptions were 54 higher than any player wearing the teal and orange last year. To say Landry was the team’s main “go-to guy” in 2017 would be the understatement of the year.
I know what most of you dedicated NFL fans are thinking – you’re pointing out the fact the Dolphins signed wide receiver, Danny Amendola, this offseason to replace Landry’s insane production. While I believe you’d be on the right track, I wouldn’t say you’re totally correct.
Even though the Dolphins’ front-office signed Amendola to try and replace some of what Landry brought to the table, I don’t believe the nine-year veteran is built to withstand that type of workload. For example, the highest reception-total Amendola has ever recorded was back in 2010, where he caught 85 passes for the St. Louis Rams. Since then, the long-time New England Patriot has only recorded an average of 42.5 receptions per year.
That said, it also shouldn’t surprise you to learn Amendola hasn’t finished a season with 700 receiving yards or more. Landry, on the other hand, has recorded an average of 1,010 receiving yards per season since becoming a pro football player. Even though these Landry and Amendola play the same slot receiver position, these two guys aren’t comparable in terms of production.
However, with the Dolphins looking to replace Landry’s production and Amendola turning 33-years-old in November, it’s finally DeVante Parker’s time to shine in Miami. The key for Parker will always be his ability to stay healthy, but if he can, look for him to make a huge jump in production from year-three to year-four.
Heck, I would go as far to say he’ll be the most-productive receiver in the AFC East when 2018 is all said and done, especially with the Patriots receiver, Julian Edelman, getting suspended for four games.
Parker, the 14th overall draft pick back in 2015, has every tool in his toolbelt to become one of the league’s elite receivers. His vertical is beyond insane, his hands have gotten much better, and his 6-foot-3 frame is among the best in the NFL. With Landry out of the picture and a huge void in production here for the taking, I expect the former Cardinals star to have a humongous 2018 season.
Derek Snyder joined as a contributor for TheCardinalConnect.com in April of 2018. He previously covered everything Louisville Cardinals as the Site-Expert for BigRedLouie.com in 2016. Follow Derek on Twitter @dcolesny10.