Today’s (not so) bold prediction: Whichever team is lucky enough to have the opportunity to draft DeVante Parker, that team will be acquiring an instant impact receiver that is likely to have a very long career in the NFL, with a ceiling of Pro Bowl level production. Obviously, we in Louisville aren’t the only ones to have this opinion – almost every publication and media outlet that covers the NFL draft projects Louisville’s #9 to go in the first 10-15 picks of the draft, and as such he’ll be waiting in the green room to hear his name called.
Even with his Louisville numbers, and the countless highlights to prove otherwise, some ‘experts’ will attempt to convince you there are reasons to have reservations about Parker as a potential NFL star. Fortunately, just about every team in the NFL wants to trade up to draft him (reportedly), so as of now it sounds like most teams aren’t very concerned by his “durability issues” or “lack of elite speed” or any of the other perceived weaknesses.
To touch on DeVante’s durability, which ESPN lists on his Insider prospect profile to be “below average”… DeVante missed a total of 1 game his entire collegiate career prior to his injury last summer. They even cited a tweaked ankle in the bowl game against Miami, you know, when he did this:
And even with the injury this year, he still managed 855 yards and 5 touchdowns in just 6 games, suggesting he’d just about completely recovered to his normal level.
As for the measurables and speed… He doesn’t have a 40″ vertical leap, but at 36.5″, he’s still got plenty of bounce. He did, however, record a 125″ broad jump, which was 6th at the combine. Scouts have also questioned his strength, saying physical corners will pose a problem for him, but they must have missed the fact he was 5th among WRs in bench reps with 17. How about Devante’s 40 time? It has been clocked between 4.40 and 4.45, and as such hasn’t been mentioned as a measurable worth drooling over by comparison to other WR prospects in this draft, but I’d argue that it’s perfectly adequate.
Other notable big/tall wide receivers’ 40 times:
–Randy Moss 4.25
–Andre Johnson 4.41
–Odell Beckham Jr. 4.43
–Terrell Owens 4.45
–AJ Green 4.50
–Michael Irvin 4.52
–Brandon Marshall 4.52
–Kelvin Benjamin 4.53
–Larry Fitzgerald 4.63
At 6’3″ and over 200 lbs, his athleticism only has to reach certain levels for that large of a target to be open. As everyone has mentioned, he has a long stride and we’ve all seen he’s pretty much unstoppable when he goes up for a jump ball. Additionally, if you look at the numbers, Amari Cooper, the consensus top WR prospect in the draft, is better in only a few categories where in others DeVante is better. To me, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between the two, and both are terrific prospects.
At the end of the day, don’t pay attention to whatever draft day analyst tries to tell you that DeVante might be a bust, that he’s too slow or too weak, that he’s an injury risk, or anything else. DeVante Parker has all of the tools to not only make it in the NFL, but have a major impact for whatever team selects him. There’s an element of luck to it – going to the right situation and avoiding injuries – but don’t for a second believe that anyone has a reason to doubt him.
Andy Knabel joined on as a contributing writer for The Cardinal Connect in August of 2013. You can follow Andy on Twitter @knabelism.