Summary: Parker looks likely to be a top-16 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft even though he never produced a 1,000-yard season in college. However, Parker was a solid 4-year contributor and a play-maker for the Cardinals.
In his first three seasons, Parker was the No. 1 receiver for Teddy Bridgewater. Parker started his career with 18 catches for 291 yards and six touchdowns. The duo of Bridgewater and Parker made big strides together in 2012, their second season, while Parker had 40 catches for 744 yards with 10 scores. As a junior, Parker recorded 55 receptions for 885 yards with 12 touchdowns. He easily could have had a 1,000-year season that year, but Bridgewater spread the ball around to a variety of receivers.
Many thought that Parker would enter the 2014 NFL Draft with Bridgewater, but Parker decided to return for his senior year. He then broke his foot in the 2014 preseason and missed seven games. However after coming back to the field, Parker was superb for Louisville. His second game back saw him record eight receptions for 214 yards against Florida State. He went over 120 yards in five of his six games. Parker notched 43 receptions for 855 yards and five touchdowns in his shortened year.
At the Combine, Parker showed more speed than many believed he had. He raced the 40 in 4.45 seconds and looked good in the field drills. The biggest question mark about Parker entering the Combine was if he was fast enough, the 40 time obviously helped him.
Parker has the potential to be a lead receiver in the NFL. He is a linear wideout who makes plays downfield. Parker is very good at making contested catches over defensive backs. He has the leaping ability and body control to be a weapon on the sideline. Parker has enough speed, but isn't a burner who is going to be a threat to score on any reception. While Parker may not be the type of wide receiver who is constantly getting separation, but he should be pretty reliable to get open.
In speaking with NFL evaluators, they felt that Parker wasn't asked to run all of the routes at Louisville, and that is something he'll have to work on as a pro. Parker could end up being a No. 1 receiver, but he doesn't look like he has the skill set to be one of the league's elites like Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, Julio Jones or Jordy Nelson.
Sources with teams believe that Parker will go in the top half of the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft because of the need for wide receivers on teams picking that early and where Parker compares with other receivers in this draft class. They say that if Parker had been in the 2014 NFL Draft with stars like Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham, he probably would have gone in the 20s or early in the second round.
Player Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins. Sources have said that they view Parker similar to Hopkins. Parker is taller than Hopkins, but both receivers are very skilled at making contested catches downfield and along the sideline. Hopkins (6-1, 218) is a couple inches shorter than Parker, but the former is turning into a good receiver for the Texans after being a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Parker should also go in the first round.
NFL Matches: Oakland, Chicago, Minnesota, New Orleans, San Francisco, Houston, Kansas City, Miami, Cleveland, Baltimore
There are a lot of teams that could target a wide receiver in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. The first two teams that could take receivers are the Raiders and Bears. However, those two franchises are more likely to take Kevin White or Amari Cooper instead of Parker.
The Vikings could use a wideout for Teddy Bridgewater. Greg Jennings is aging, while Cordarrelle Patterson had a down 2014 season. It could help Bridgewater to make strides in his second year if he's reunited with his college No. 1.
The 49ers could use more young receiving talent given the age of Anquan Boldin and the hazy future of Michael Crabtree in San Francisco. Similarly, the Texans need a future No. 1 receiver to replace Andre Johnson, but Parker wouldn't give them something different than what they have in Hopkins.
Even after signing Jeremy Maclin, the Chiefs need to give Alex Smith more receiving weapons to work with. Kansas City could have a dangerous receiving corps with Parker, Maclin and Dwayne Bowe (assuming he isn't released).
The Dolphins could move on from Mike Wallace, and Parker could be a good fit in the Miami offense. He would make sense for the organizations in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
It is obvious that Cleveland needs to improve its receiving talent. Josh Gordon can't be counted on in any long-term plans, and the Browns have to give their young quarterbacks something to work with.
New Orleans took a wide receiver in the first round last year, but the team still needs more weapons for Drew Brees after trading Jimmy Graham. Marques Colston is slowing down, so adding a receiver with size to pair with the speedy Brandin Cooks could make sense for the Saints.
Baltimore could be a good fit for Parker as a back-shoulder sideline target to pair with Joe Flacco's big arm. The Ravens would have to trade up for Parker.