How Miami Speedster Phillip Dorsett Fits With the Indianapolis Colts
When a team has a young quarterback with a high ceiling such as Andrew Luck, providing weapons is crucial.
The Indianapolis Colts clearly are aware of this. Indianapolis added speedy wideout Phillip Dorsett from the University of Miami with the 29th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, giving Luck yet another target for his high-volume approach.
Dorsett at Miami
At 5’10” and 185 pounds, Dorsett measures up closely with deep threats such as Andre Roberts and his replacement in Arizona, John Brown. He ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, good enough for third fastest this year. At his pro day a month later, he shaved half a tenth of a second off that time. This guy explodes off the line and doesn’t slow down.
In 2014 -- with 36 receptions for 871 yards, 10 touchdowns, and an average of 24.2 yards per catch -- Dorsett showcased his home run ability by catching a 30-plus-yard pass in nine games during his senior season.
He didn’t get the same volume as some of the other top wide receivers in this draft class -- Dorsett never had more than five catches in a game last year -- but he has the ability to make a big play every game. Of the 37 catchable balls thrown his way last year, he dropped only one and ended the season with a touchdown in four consecutive games.
In addition to being a deep threat, he has the ability to make defenders miss after catching shorter routes. He played both in the slot and outside in Miami’s pro-style offense.
There are questions about his health following a partial MCL tear in 2013, but his combine performance showed teams that he is still just as fast as before the injury. His small frame might be cause for concern in the NFL, especially if he is in the slot running in front of linebackers.
What He Brings to the Colts
Defenses will have fits trying to keep up with Dorsett and T.Y. Hilton on the field at the same time. Hilton, at 5’9” and 178 pounds is proof that Dorsett is not too small for the NFL. With Andre Johnson, Donte Moncrief, and Duron Carter also in town, Dorsett will have to earn his playing time. The good news is that he should get an opportunity for looks outside and in the slot, but the question is, "How many?"
There are few situations better for a rookie wide receiver than to have Luck as a quarterback. According to our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Luck ranked seventh last season with a Passing NEP of 110.33. NEP accounts for on-field variables such as down and distance to provide context on each play and rewards players for performing above or below expectation level in terms of increasing or decreasing a team’s scoring potential.
In 2014, the Colts’ resident speedster wide receiver, Hilton, had a Reception NEP of 108.36, good enough for 10th best in the NFL among all wide receivers. Free agent Reggie Wayne posted a Reception NEP of 61.01, which ranked 47th among wide receivers, but no other current Colts receiver finished inside the top 50 in Reception NEP at the position.
However, at the tight end position, the Colts had some significant production, as both Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener finished inside the top seven in Reception NEP per target among 27 tight ends with at least 50 targets in 2014, posting scores of 0.90 and 0.76, respectively.
Still, Dorsett will aim to put up numbers similar to Hilton’s rookie year of 50 receptions for 861 yards and 7 touchdowns. In three years, Hilton has averaged 13 yards or greater per catch. If Dorsett’s college performance carries over to the next level, Colts fans can expect an even bigger average from their new rookie.
Being the first wide receiver chosen by the Colts following Reggie Wayne’s departure will certainly come with some pressure, and he will certainly have a lot to prove -- especially after the team’s other offseason additions at the receiver position.