Many in the league believe receivers break out if at all in their third NFL seasons. For Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker, a first-round pick in 2015, Year Three has arrived. The team now expects Parker to do the same. In a big way.
Offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen set the bar very high for Parker during Saturday comments to reporters.
“The great thing is we’re seeing what we were hoping to see, and that’s, A, a healthy DeVante Parker – he is running probably better than I’ve seen him run since I’ve been here — and a hungry DeVante Parker. I think he has been around a lot more than last year. He is practicing hard. He’s queued in on this thing — zeroed in I guess is our word this year — zeroed in. So, we are seeing what we wanted to see out of him.”
And here’s what Clyde expects from Parker: “We need him to be a big play, No. 1 receiver. That’s what he has the potential to be. That’s what he has to be, and to play at a high level week after week after week after week in a consistent manner. It’s not easy to do, but he has the skills to do it, which not many guys do have. Now he’s applying himself. He has always worked, but he struggled with that hamstring. He has gotten himself healthy. I really think that maybe lifestyle — for lack of a better term — but just his routine is better. Sometimes those young guys, as they come into this thing, it takes them a while to fall into the routine of what it takes to put your body in position, in shape, sleep — all the above — eating, practicing, all those things to be able to make it through a 16-game season, especially for a receiver, where you just are running so much. There’s so much running involved in the thing. I think probably all those things have gotten better for him. I think they’ll all combine to him having a great year this year.
And here’s where the bar gets sets maybe too high for Parker: “I really think he’ll have a great, big year — a gigantic year for us,” Christensen said. “That would be huge. That takes a ton of pressure. . . . It helps with everything. It helps with the quarterback position. It helps with your running game. It helps everything. If you can get some chunks of yardage and you get a big-play guy who can jump over, it helps with some jumps balls, 50-50 balls and all of a sudden you come down with a few of those. Those are important chunks. It’s hard to go four yards and a cloud of dust.”
Yes, it is. But it’s not as if the Dolphins don’t have other quality receivers, in both Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills. Although Christensen was focused on Parker, the expectations thrust upon him could make both Landry and Stills think that Christensen doesn’t believe they can do the things he wants Parker to do.
Parker will definitely help make the receiving corps better, if he can become what Landry and Stills already are. But Landry and Stills already are pretty good, and the Dolphins offense will be far more than “four yards and a cloud of dust” if Parker ultimately is a bust.