Giving Steven Parker His Proper Due
The Dolphins have their fair share of anonymous players, which is to be expected given the magnitude of the rebuilding project the organization began undertaking last year.
So there no doubt were plenty of options when it came to time to selecting a most underrated player, as NFL reporter Conor Orr did for a story in Sports Illustrated on Friday.
His choice turned out to be safety Steven Parker, one of the many newcomers on the Dolphins roster in 2019.
Parker joined the Dolphins the day after the cuts to the 53-man roster limit when he was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.
Parker, who had spent the 2018 season on the Rams practice squad after going undrafted out of Oklahoma, ended up starting 14 games and starting four for the Dolphins last year.
The highlight of his season came in the Dolphins victory against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium in November when he came up with a spectacular first-quarterback interception in the 16-12 victory.
Parker literally took the ball away from tight end Eric Ebron to turn an apparent Colts touchdown into a touchback for the Dolphins.
His second of two interceptions on the season came in the December game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium when he picked off Sam Darnold.
How Parker figures into the Dolphins' plans in 2020 is an interesting question. Parker should enough ability as a rookie to suggest he could challenge veteran Bobby McCain for one of the two starting jobs at safety, with Eric Rowe pretty firmly entrenched as one of the starters.
This is what Orr wrote about Parker in selecting him as the Dolphins' most underrated player: "The Dolphins claimed Parker off waivers just as the regular season was beginning, and got 14 games (and four starts) out of the undrafted free agent. Here’s where the value comes in: Parker was in on about a third of Miami’s snaps (with two games in which he played more than 90% of snaps) and allowed an opposing completion percentage of 53.8 and an opposer passer rating of 83.8. He misses a low portion of tackles (relatively, considering sample size) and can play free safety, in the box or at slot cornerback. He is emblematic of the kind of player Bill Belichick would require to keep a versatile defense from skipping a beat, which Brian Flores seems to have taken to heart here."
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.