Perhaps the only person happier than Stephen Ross that the Cleveland Browns passed on DeVante Parker was Parker’s mom.
“We didn’t want him going to Cleveland,” Raneca Parker said Friday, less than 24 hours after the Dolphins took her son with the 14th pick. “They don’t have a team, really, or a quarterback. I knew I didn’t want the Cleveland Browns.
“I know the teams he could go to and the teams he couldn’t go to. We were happy with the Miami Dolphins. He was very ecstatic. We’re happy, we love the weather.”
That weather cooperated Friday, as 80 degrees and a cloudless sky greeted the Parker family when they touched down in Fort Lauderdale.
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Parker, a heralded wide receiver out of Louisville, participated in the now-familiar ritual for first-round picks: touring team headquarters before photo-ops with team honchos.
Ross, who was over the moon with the pick Thursday, was still charged up Friday afternoon.
“It’s a real pleasure for him to be here today,” Ross gushed.
The feeling was mutual. Those close to Parker insist the Dolphins were Parker’s No. 1 choice — even if he wasn’t expecting to end up here.
“I was pretty sure the Vikings [who picked 11th] were going to snatch me up,” Parker said. “After that, I had confidence that Miami was going to pick me up.”
In just the short time he has met with Miami-based reporters, Parker’s coach-friendly personality has already emerged. A man of few words off the field, friends say, Parker is a hard worker, unassuming and team-first. In short, he’s coach Joe Philbin’s dream prospect.
But once between the lines, he’s a force. Parker dropped just three passes in four years at Louisville. He could have gone pro after his junior season but decided to return for a fourth year. And even after a foot injury robbed him half of his 2014, Parker still tied the school record in career receiving touchdowns (33).
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the result,” Dolphins football czar Mike Tannenbaum said. “You run a lot of scenarios. You don’t know which way it’s going to go.”
Added general manager Dennis Hickey: “Thankfully, the board fell to our favor.”
After Parker’s media commitments, he huddled with Ken O’Keefe, his new position coach. It’s up to O’Keefe to get the most out of the prodigious talent — and figure out a way to get all of their receivers involved. Jarvis Landry is back for a second year, joined by Parker, Greg Jennings and Kenny Stills — all added in the past two months.
It’s unclear how the Dolphins will use their newfound wealth, but Parker’s role is the easiest to guess. He has the skill set and makeup to be the “X” — or split end — who’s usually the fastest big receiver on the team. At 6-3, Parker is pretty much the only big receiver on Miami’s roster.
“I’m a big, strong, physical receiver, who’s a playmaker ... [and who’s] good to be around,” said Parker, who paused, and then added: “Very intelligent.”
Hard to argue with him. He’d rather be in South Florida than northeast Ohio in the winter.