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Why DeVante Parker is Dolphins’ breakout player this season

Parker’s should quickly become Jay Cutler’s go-to guy, says retired NFL defensive end Stephen White.

NFL: New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker has gotten off to somewhat of a slow start to his NFL career.

He was an absolute beast in college at Louisville. He could really go up and catch the football at its highest point like it was nothing. He was also a helluva runner after the catch. But he had a foot injury that caused him to miss the first half of his senior season in college and then he ended up having surgery on the same foot in the spring of 2015 before his rookie season.

A rookie season where he would only notch 26 receptions and three touchdowns.

Last year Parker was healthier and picked things up a bit to get to 56 catches for 744 yards and four touchdowns. Those are pretty good stats for a No. 2 wide receiver, but I don't think the Dolphins selected him with the 14th pick in the first round to be a No. 2 for them. Parker has No. 1 wide receiver talent, and now he's ready to take a big leap forward in his third season in the league.

He has the size at 6'3 and 212 pounds to give most defensive backs problems on jump balls and 50/50 catches, but he also has enough speed to make those defensive backs worry about him running by them. He's also a decent route runner who looked quicker getting in and out of his breaks last season than he did his rookie year. Most of all, it appears that he is fully healthy for the first time since his last season at Louisville. That should spell trouble for opposing defenses this season.

Where I think Parker is ready to break out is with his ability to run after the catch, turning short catches into big plays. He certainly showed the ability to do that in college. Now that he is further removed from all the foot surgeries and after gaining some confidence last season, Parker is ready to get back to playing with a little more reckless abandon.

Even though he had more catches last season, his average yardage per catch went down from 19 yards to 13.3 yards. It might not get back to 19 this season, but it should be a hell of a lot closer than it was. That means his overall production should increase even if he only gets the same amount of catches. But I think his catches are going to shoot up to this season.

Why?

Because his new quarterback Jay Cutler ran out of fucks to give about five years ago.

Parker was starting to develop some chemistry with Ryan Tannehill, but Tannehill’s injury and the subsequent signing of Cutler has me even more convinced that he will break out this season. Cutler's problem has never been his arm, but rather his decision making. I don't think he has ever seen a window he didn't think he could fit a football into, no matter how small it was.

That means there is a very good chance that Cutler is going to give Parker plenty of opportunities on jump balls when he sees man-to-man coverage because why the hell not? I'm not even saying it will be the wrong play. It's just that some quarterbacks are too worried about their completion percentages and interception numbers to throw to a guy who looks covered, but Cutler doesn't seem to worry about it. And that's perfect for a guy like Parker because even when he is covered, he can usually go up and snatch the ball out of the air over a smaller defender.

So I'm expecting plenty of targets for Parker. I'm also expecting him to make the most out of the majority of them. With Cutler at quarterback, I think Parker will put up crazy numbers, if he can stay healthy. Now, I don't know that Cutler throwing it up like that will equal up to wins or not, but it does make me feel confident in my pick of DeVante Parker as the Dolphins' breakout player.