DAVIE (AP) — First-round draft pick DeVante Parker would do well to match the success of another receiver who made the jump from the University of Louisville to the Miami Dolphins — Mark Clayton.
“I’ve heard of him,” Parker said Friday.
And what does he know about Clayton?
“I’ve heard of him,” Parker repeated with a sheepish smile.
Oh well. The Dolphins didn’t draft Parker for his knowledge of football history.
Clayton played in the NFL for 11 seasons until 1993 — the year Parker was born — and caught 81 touchdown passes for the Dolphins, still a franchise record. He came out of Louisville as a lightly regarded eighth-round draft pick but thrived with Dan Marino, while Parker was the 14th overall choice Thursday and hopes to help Ryan Tannehill transform Miami into a playoff team.
Like Clayton — and most NFL wideouts — Parker doesn’t lack for confidence.
“I’m a big strong physical receiver, a playmaker,” he said, adding with a grin, “and just a good guy to be around — very intelligent.”
Parker spoke at his introductory news conference, where team owner Stephen Ross presented him with a Dolphins jersey bearing No. 1.
Parker said he was pleased but surprised to be in Miami.
“I was pretty sure the Vikings were going to snatch me,” he said.
Ross smiled and said, “Whew,” because the Dolphins were hoping Parker would slip to them.
“Fortunately the board fell in our favor,” general manager Dennis Hickey said. Coaches past and present at Louisville raved about Parker, Hickey said, including former Dolphins receiver Lamar Thomas.
“Every fifth catch he had at Louisville was a touchdown,” Hickey said. “He was a playmaker from the time he stepped on campus.”
His football career got off to a shaky start, though, according to his grandmother, Yvonne Parker.
“When he was beginning to play in Little League,” she said, “he ran the ball to the end zone and dropped the ball before he got in, he was so excited.”
Now Parker makes sure he crosses the goal line before celebrating. He said the receiver he most resembles is A.J. Green, who has 35 touchdown catches in the past four years with the Bengals.
The Dolphins would happily take another Green — or Mark Clayton.
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