A few weeks ago, I put together a look at Amari Cooper versus the top prospects of the last 10 years. While you often read that Cooper isn’t in the same range as Top 10 prospects from the recent past, he actually looked superior to most of the big names. Devante Parker is another prospect who’s been getting lost a little in the Kevin White enthusiasm. Might Parker also be a candidate to quickly join the top tier of dynasty receivers?1
Devante Parker versus Sammy Watkins
This one is complicated. We know that Parker and Watkins test similarly as athletes. They have nearly identical explosion numbers and Freak Scores. Parker is taller, which suggests increased touchdown-scoring ability, and thus probably the preferable profile. Watkins owns the better breakout age – check out his true freshman season of 2011 which is better than Parker’s first three seasons – and Parker owns the better final year campaign. Parker’s 0.54 DR crushes Watkins’ 0.33.
We never saw Watkins truly emerge as an ultra-elite prospect from a metrics perspective, and he tends to be slightly overrated as an athlete. That gives the smallest of edges to Parker.
Edge: Devante Parker
Devante Parker versus DeAndre Hopkins
Hopkins is the only prospect in this exercise who trails Parker by a wide margin on the physical measures. This is also a tricky comparison because Hopkins left school at a much younger age.2 Once we make the age adjustment, this gets a lot closer than it appears on the surface. Hopkins scored 1.4 touchdowns per game in his final season despite sharing the field with players like Watkins and Martavis Bryant. This helps explain why we believed Hopkins should be the top dynasty prospect two years ago.
Edge: Devante Parker
Devante Parker versus Alshon Jeffery
Jeffery is another top fantasy receiver and a player RotoViz recommended heartily heading into his 2013 breakout season. As you can see, Jeffery’s Dominator Rating was much stronger than you might have guessed from a player with a lukewarm response from scouts. He’s also another player with a nearly identical physical profile, his explosion and Freak Scores mirroring Parker’s numbers. (Jeffery’s numbers are from his Pro Day, a factor which probably works in his favor.) Here again Parker gets the advantage of playing an extra year, but the two players entered the draft at almost identical ages.
Edge: Devante Parker
Devante Parker versus A.J. Green
Parker is often referenced as a poor man’s A.J. Green, but the heatmap would suggest equal bank accounts. The two are eerily similar from a size/athleticism perspective, and the Louisville star trumped Green in a comparison of each of their final two seasons. This may seem like an apples-to-oranges comparison since Green entered the draft after his junior campaign, but Green was an old junior at the time.
Edge: Devante Parker
Devante Parker versus Julio Jones
Unlike the situation with Watkins and Green, the almost transcendentally athletic Jones owns a big edge in explosion and Freak Score. Jones was also five months younger than Green when they entered the draft in 2011. Although the Crimson Tide star was not quite as productive, his early breakout age (the freshman season of 2008 was his best from a DR perspective) and elite athleticism give him a small edge.
Edge: Julio Jones
Devante Parker versus Dez Bryant
Bryant’s 2009 season was such a small sample that it made sense to ignore it here. We also have to use his Pro Day numbers which could be favorable from a Freak Score perspective. Once again, Parker finds himself the simulacrum of a star in the Freak Score department, but Bryant distances himself in the leaping drills. Bryant is also the first player to join Parker in cresting 0.50 DR.
Edge: Dez Bryant
Devante Parker versus Calvin Johnson
When you’re Megatron, you don’t need to do the jumping drills to demonstrate the ability to transform into a defense-destroying monster. The inclusion of Johnson helps remind us that nobody comes anywhere close, but also helps show just how impressive Parker’s 2014 Dominator Rating really is. You’ll note that only Bryant and Johnson are in the same range on that combined metric.
Parker appears to be a similar prospect to Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery, and A.J. Green. Most dynasty Top 10 WR lists include those receivers in some order. Having seen each of these players succeed at the NFL level, you obviously wouldn’t trade any individually for Parker, but it’s still an encouraging sign.
I’d probably be looking to select Parker in the 1.02 area, immediately after Cooper, but I expect he will consistently drop into the 1.04 to 1.05 range. I recently projected him to 1.04, after Todd Gurley and Kevin White are gone and in a virtual dead heat with Melvin Gordon. As a result, I expect him to end up on a lot of my teams. In the PFF Dynasty league I traded both Julio Jones and Jimmy Graham right before free agency. Those trades netted quite a few young veterans but also picks 1.04 and 1.05. I feel very comfortable moving into that range as my biggest need is RB and my top target is Parker. In many rookie years – 2013, for example – Parker and the ridiculously underrated Gordon would have gone 1-2 in some order. I love the opportunity to land the duo slightly later this season.
- A quick note on methodology. My research suggests you will be very accurate in gauging the likelihood of prospect’s NFL success if you only know three items: final season Dominator Rating, breakout age, and Freak Score. You can be slightly more accurate if you take a more granular approach to age-adjusted production and perhaps gain a little from peeking at the explosion measures. Beyond that, you quickly get less accurate by taking a wide variety of stylistic information into your evaluation There’s plenty of evidence beyond football to suggest this is the case, but I make that point simply to explain my approach, not with the intention of converting others. I wouldn’t want all analysts to use the same approach, and the natural competition of ideas creates a more constructive environment than would exist if we all approached this project in exactly the same way. (back)
- Using Jon Moore’s age database, Hopkins was more than a year younger. (back)