We’re at that point during the offseason where there is hardly any football but the temperatures are heating up. The grills get fired up and the fireworks erupt into the night sky. Over the last few days, I decided to take a look at some players who need more than just fireworks, as they enter pivotal points of their careers.
As time passes, we always look at players who went much sooner than they should have in the NFL Draft. This also leads to the discussion of why did this player go before this player and so on. Plenty of teams miss the mark on players but also, some players just don’t meet the expectations. Let’s start with some players that haven’t met expectations, yet.
Both players that I’m starting with are former first-round picks in their respective draft classes. They were great college receivers but haven’t had as much success during their first few seasons, at the next level. Let’s start at the top:
DeVante Parker – WR, Miami Dolphins
Turn the clocks back to the 2015 NFL Draft and put the Miami Dolphins on the clock with the 14th overall pick. Players such as Malcolm Brown and Melvin Gordon were on the clock. However, the Dolphins opted to go with a wide receiver, DeVante Parker.
In all honesty, it was a weird selection from the start. Parker had some injury concerns coming out of Louisville but that’s not even the biggest issue. The Dolphins had drafted Jarvis Landry, the year prior. Meanwhile, they traded Dannell Ellerbe and third-round pick from the 2015 NFL Draft to the New Orleans Saints. In return, they received wide receiver, Kenny Stills.
Since his arrival to the Dolphins, Stills has outperformed DeVante Parker and it hasn’t been close. In three seasons, Stills has 127 receptions for 2,013 yards and 18 touchdowns. As for Parker, he has 139 receptions for 1,908 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s saying something, especially since, Parker had 33 touchdowns at Louisville. The Dolphins can’t ask for anything more from Stills but as for Parker, it’s been underwhelming.
Entering the 2018 season, the door is open for the former college standout to put it all together. Jarvis Landry was traded to the Cleveland Browns and there will be chances for everyone to catch more passes. During Landry’s tenure in Miami, he averaged 100 receptions per season. To pick up the slack for that loss of production, the Dolphins signed Albert Wilson. Last year, Wilson had 42 receptions and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stay in a similar role as the one he was in with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Outside of Stills, the one person that stands in the way of Parker statistically improving is Danny Amendola. Health has always been a concern for him but he signed a two-year contract and caught 61 passes last year. There’s a chance he’ll see similar production, if healthy. In the middle of all this, Mike Gesicki could be productive in his rookie season as he’s expected to be the starting tight end.
Ultimately, DeVante Parker has been underwhelming in his tenure for the Dolphins. He really struggled with an ankle injury last season but even when he’s been on the field, the production has been lackluster. The 2018 season is going to be a make-it or break-it season for him despite the Dolphins already picking up his fifth-year option.
LB Kamalei Correa, Baltimore Ravens
Every team has different draft philosophies. We all know that these teams approach each round differently. That could be the case for the Baltimore Ravens and how they approached the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft. They were on the clock with the 42nd overall pick and passed on two former Alabama standouts. That’s surprising, especially when Ozzie Newsome was calling the shots. Those two former Crimson Tide players were Derrick Henry and A’Shawn Robinson. At this point, either one of them would be better than Kamalei Correa and what he’s provided as the second round pick from that draft.
In the first round of that draft, the Ravens selected Ronnie Stanley. Taking offensive linemen such as Jason Spriggs or Cody Whitehair doesn’t seem ideal. However, taking a better linebacker would have made sense. That player would have been Deion Jones out of LSU. He’s turned into a stud for the Atlanta Falcons and he very well could be for the Ravens, instead.
As the saying goes, “what’s done is done.” That’s certainly the truth and for the Ravens, they need to find a way to get Correa on the field. Throughout two years in the NFL, he only has 17 tackles and two pass deflections. Coming out of college, he had 110 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss and 20 sacks. The former edge rusher out of Boise State has struggled to convert to the linebacker position.
Even though he finished the year on injured reserve last year, he has played in 25 total games for the Ravens. There’s just been limited production for him but plenty of opportunities. Zach Orr retired and that opened the door for someone to play alongside C.J. Mosley as an inside linebacker. Unfortunately for the Ravens, Correa hasn’t been the 2nd round pick that they were hoping for. He needs to step up for the 2018 season or the Ravens should consider looking elsewhere for another inside linebacker.
Laquon Treadwell – WR, Minnesota Vikings
Lastly, we’ll talk about one of my favorite players from the 2016 NFL Draft. Laquon Treadwell was my top ranked receiver from that class but he became the fourth receiver off the board. Part of that was because his athletic testing at the Scouting Combine was poor. Also, he was bouncing back from an injury where he broke his tibia and dislocated his ankle. It was a gruesome injury to say the least. With over 200 receptions and 2,300 yards, the road to recovery wouldn’t be easy. But the expectations were still set high for Treadwell.
Coming out of Ole Miss, he was a natural hands catcher and was a gifted route runner. He could win 50-50 balls and had the ability to turn into a solid possession receiver. During his rookie season, he competed against Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph and Cordarrelle Patterson for playing time and receptions. Those four players compiled 288 receptions and that was good for 69.56% of the reception production on offense. As for Treadwell, he only had one reception in his rookie season.
Even though he hasn’t lived up to the expectations for the first round selection, Treadwell did have 20 receptions in his second season. Now that he’s gotten more comfortable in this offense and has Kirk Cousins as his quarterback, there’s belief that Treadwell will be rolling out with the first team. During OTA’s he’s spent a great deal with the first team offense and there’s belief that he could be do for a breakout season. If he doesn’t have a more productive season, the Vikings could look back and wonder why they passed on a receiver like Michael Thomas or a defensive tackle such as, Kenny Clark. For now, Treadwell is in the clear but the pressure is building and it’s time for him to make the leap.