Trying to predict what a team is going to do in the draft is about as useful and accurate as predicting what the weather is going to be like a year from today.
There are just way, way to many variables to know what's going to happen. We don't know how high the team is on in-house players. We don't know what players have been causing drama behind the scenes. We don't know what fan favorites the coaches think is a lost cause. In short, we just don't know.
Is that going to prevent us from spending hundreds of hours of precious time guessing, wishing, and projecting various draft picks for the Chiefs? Of COURSE not?
With that in mind, let's talk about DeVante Parker.
Parker is almost universally viewed as the third best receiver in the draft, behind acknowledged studs Amari Cooper and Kevin White. I'm not sure I've seen anyone value him above those two (though, to be fair, I didn't look very hard). He's got wonderful size at 6'3 and 209 pounds to go with good speed (4.45 40 at the combine). Also possesses a variety of desirable traits, but we'll get to that in a second.
The first questions is whether Parker will even be available at 18. After a solid combine showed he's regained the explosion some feared he had lost after a foot injury, many assume he won't be there for the taking when the Chiefs take the podium.
Is that a legitimate concern? Sure. Is there at least a good chance he falls to 18? I believe so. As mentioned, White and Cooper are almost universally considered the best two WR prospects in this draft. They're going to be gone for sure. But is there really a third team that's going to go WR that early in yet another incredibly deep WR draft? I'm not sure.
One could imagine the Texans are a threat to take Parker to replace Andre Johnson, or the Chargers because they ruin everything. That said, given the recent hype of Breshad Perriman created by running a 2.95 40 ( ... or something like that), as well as the tantalizingly tempting talent of Dorial Green-Beckham and the strong college production of Jaelen Strong (thanks, I'll be here all day), there's at least a CHANCE a different receiver than Parker is the third one taken.
I'd put it at a coin flip that he'll be there at 18. And if he is the Chiefs would be well advised to take him. Because his skill set is absolutely perfect for what the Chiefs need at this point.
(Note: all GIFs are coming via Draft Breakdown. I'm only going to use a few to keep the page from slowing way, way down. Also, if you want to watch nine games of his film yourself, click here. It's a great site, indispensable really).
The first thing about Parker that I absolutely love is the way he attacks the ball with his hands rather than letting it come to him. He's got strong hands to go with ridiculously long arms, and that allows him to make plays like this:
There are more impressive plays out there for Parker, but this is a perfect example of his tracking and "attacking" the ball. On a play like this, if you let the ball come to you it gets knocked down or picked off. Not so in this case. Full disclosure, the refs determined Parker had stepped out of bounds previously on the route and called off the touchdown. But that's sorta beside the point.
The point is Parker has wonderful skills to track and corral the ball. You see it time and again as he wins at the catch point.
Of course, Chiefs fans are very, very wary of big-n-tall receivers who win at the catch point. I understand that. Jon Baldwin left us all scarred. It's understandable.
That said, even a cursory review of Parker's film shows he's not another Baldwin. Baldwin's biggest issues were twofold: inability to separate from press coverage, and inability to get separation in his cuts. Both were related to his complete lack of quickness. Baldwin was very, very fast ... once he took about 10 steps. That doesn't do it in the NFL.
Parker doesn't have that problem. First of all, he's a full 15-20 pounds lighter than Baldwin was coming out. Second, he doesn't share the "no quickness whatsoever" issue. He's not Jeremy Maclin, but he can move.
His superior quickness (when compared to a plodder like Baldwin) allows for him to do better against press coverage, another major fear people have about bigger receivers. Parker showed multiple times the ability to stutter step around press coverage and get a clean release off the line. He's not great, but he's nowhere near as deficient in that area as Baldwin was. He's also willing to be physical on his routes and doesn't seem overly bothered by contact. That's a big deal, as it was another area Baldwin (our deepest fear) really struggled.
I think a lot of the fear that Parker doesn't possess the same speed / quickness he had prior to breaking a bone in his foot came from his first few games back in 2014, where he was clearly a little hesitant in his cuts and just wasn't accelerating as quickly as he had before the injury. This seemed to lead to some speculation that he'd lost his explosion.
By the end of the season, this issue had been largely resolved (and has since been further resolved by good workouts). He was moving a lot more confidently by the time the year wound down. Do you ever see Baldwin moving like Parker does in the open field here? (link instead of embedded because, you know, page speed and stuff)
It's also worth noting that while Parker was moving "slowly," he was still tearing teams apart statistically. Parker had 855 yards in just SIX GAMES in 2014. For frame of reference, Breshad Perriman needed 13 games to collect 200 more yards. Parker's production when he came back was even more impressive when you factor the quarterback play of Louisville last season, which was... uneven.
The Chiefs have Albert Wilson and Maclin, two players who create separation quickly and threaten defenses deep. Adding a guy like Parker would create another deep threat while allowing both Maclin and Wilson to work shorter to intermediate routes, with Parker pulling safeties deep. He's a mismatch down the field on jump balls down the field, but he creates enough separation on those routes that even the risk-adverse Alex Smith should feel comfortable targeting him. He also has good YAC ability, an essential in Reid's system.
I have no idea if wide receiver is in the plans for the Chiefs in the first round, but adding DeVante Parker would make me VERY confident in the Chiefs receiver group moving forward.
Now if only he slides a little bit. Someone start a rumor about him already.