Throw it up, and let DeVante Paker go get it.
That’s what the Miami Dolphins expected when they picked the 6-3, 210-pound Parker out of Louisville with the 14th overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft.
Foot injuries, which began to plague him in college, kept Parker to just four catches and 49 yards in his first 10 games.
But Sunday, in a 20-10 win over the New England Patriots, Parker had the first 100-yard game of his career — the first of many to come, according to his quarterback.
“He’s got a really bright future,” Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill said of Parker, who made five catches on six targets for 106 yards and one touchdown.
“He’s going to be one of the best players in the league. I believe that wholeheartedly. He’s just scratching the surface.”
With a 10-10 score midway through the fourth quarter, Parker caught a 46-yard pass — the type Dolphins fans have seen in their dreams.
Parker reached over a Patriots defensive back, tipped the ball up and grabbed it for a highlight-reel catch.
“Once it was in the air, I thought [the pass] was mine,” Parker said. “I thought no one could get it but me.”
Parker had put the Dolphins on top 10-3 in the second quarter, catching a 15-yard touchdown pass from Tannehill. On that play, Parker showed a different skill set, splitting two defenders in a Patriots zone defense.
Tannehill seemed to develop a good connection with Parker down the stretch this season. Parker finished the season with three straight games in which he gained over 85 yards.
For the year, Parker had 26 catches for 494 yards and three touchdowns. But it’s more than just those numbers.
Consider that he missed all of training camp due to the foot injury. He missed the opener, played two games and then got hurt again, costing him six games.
Once he finally got healthy — it also helped him that Rishard Matthews got hurt, opening up playing time — Parker averaged 74.2 yards over the final six games.
Could it be that the Dolphins have a young receiving tandem with a bright future in Jarvis Landry, 23, and Parker, who turns 23 on Jan. 20?
Parker thinks so.
“I think we’re going to be a pretty good combo,” Parker said.
“It will be pretty hard to stop both of us. We just have to continue to get better.”