Will Parks had his playing time increased significantly last year. When TJ.. Ward was released, Justin Simmons received a promotion, and Will Parks stepped into that 3rd safety role.
Parks jumped up from 23% of defensive snaps in his rookie season to playing 60% of possible defensive snaps.
Name: Will Parks
Height: 6’ 1”
Experience: 3rd Season
Parks stepped into the 3rd safety/dime linebacker role as an undersized safety and held up pretty well in the box amongst all that traffic. At 194 lbs, Parks is not ideal for sticking his nose in against the run, but his tenacity in the run game and as a tackler was pretty impressive.
Parks is also a great contributor on special teams. We all remember his touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in 2016, but he also contributed on 76% of special teams snaps.
Parks struggled mightily in coverage and was one of the main reasons Denver gave up so many big plays to tight ends and running backs. In my breakdown of touchdowns given up to tight ends and runnings backs where I assigned blame for each touchdown, Will Parks was responsible for the most of all Denver defenders with four. He also gave up multiple big plays throughout the season.
In addition to individual man coverage, Parks needs to improve his eye discipline as he was often pulled out of position by misdirection.
This off-season, Parks is showing the willingness to put in the work and has been working out with several members of the secondary. Bradley Roby was asked about these workouts and their value during OTAs:
“Chris, me, [S] Will Parks and [CB] Brendan Langley [were] out there with us. I think it’s very valuable. Any time you can get guys on the same team, working in the off-season, that itself is good for the chemistry. All the little things that you talk about when you’re not working out—everything on that field is about that connection and being able to relate to guys off the field. I think that is going to translate. His trainer is a great trainer and he’s kind of a DB specific guy. It’s good to kind of get there and work on all the little things.”
Su’a Cravens will be competing with Parks for playing time at the third safety spot and was asked about the competition when he was signed:
Will and I have been competing since high school. We’d do camps, then we get into the [Pacific-12 Conference] and he’s laying people out and sending me the clips telling me, ‘You can’t do what I do.’ When we get here it’s going to be a healthy competition. It doesn’t matter if he’s on the field, if I’m on the field or whoever’s on the field, as long as we’re winning. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
In 2017, Parks was asked to step into a role he really wasn’t ready for. It was a good example of what you want to do with young players, throw them in the fire and see how they handle it. After seeing Parks in more extended time last year, Denver went and pursued Su’a Cravens to fill the dime linebacker role, so Parks can move back to his more natural reserve safety role and special teams player as he continues to develop.
Hopefully he can continue to grow and improve his coverage skills in camp, but barring injury I just don’t see a lot of defensive snaps available for Parks in 2018 which is probably for the best given his play last year.