Phillip Dorsett: Will He Validate His Draft Position in 2017?

When the Indianapolis Colts used their first pick on a wide receiver during the 2015 NFL Draft, hope for the team’s receiving corps rose sharply. The goal of surrounding star quarterback Andrew Luck with numerous playmakers was the sole focus. Acquiring talent on the defensive side of the ball took a back seat. The Colts used their 29th overall pick on Phillip Dorsett, a speedy receiver out of the University of Miami. Now headed into his third season, will Dorsett live up to his first-round draft status?

Phillip Dorsett: Will He Validate His Draft Position in 2017?

Hindsight is 20/20

Prior to examining Dorsett’s stats, a recap of the 2015 draft is a great place to start. Hindsight always makes it easy to gauge whether a player was a good value on draft day. Currently, an overwhelming majority of Colts writers and fans are clamoring for defensive game-changers. Heading into the upcoming 2017 NFL draft, the needs on defense are glaring. How different would the team’s defense look if the organization chose to draft a defensive stalwart two years ago?

Some notable defensive players that were available with the 29th overall pick include: Landon Collins, Eric Kendricks, Markus Golden, Frank Clark, Danielle Hunter, and Kwon Alexander.  It is unfair to criticize the team for not giving first-round grades to any of these players mentioned. All of the other teams did the same. Neglecting to pick Landon Collins, whom Pro Football Focus rated as the third best safety of the 2016 NFL season, will have Colts fans wondering what could’ve been. The 2016 All-Pro Collins was off the draft board only four picks after Dorsett.

To add to the “what could have been” theme, notable offensive playmakers that were selected after the 29th overall pick include: Tyler Lockett, David Johnson, Ty Montgomery, Stefon Diggs and Jay Ajayi. Whether fair or unfair, Dorsett’s production will always be compared to players that were selected later in the draft.

Phillip Dorsett and T.Y. Hilton too similar?

When analyzing Dorsett’s measurables, he is very similar to the Colts standout receiver T.Y. Hilton.  Both players are 5’10” and 183 pounds according to Pro Football Reference. Their respective 40-yard dash times are within 0.01 seconds, with Dorsett listed at 4.33 and Hilton clocked at 4.34. Ironically, their college teams are both from the state of Florida. Selecting a wide receiver at 29th overall shocked many fans and writers. Dorsett is almost physically identical to Hilton which added to the confusion. Colts players were in shock, and disappointment set in.

Crunch the Numbers

After examining Dorsett’s production, the statistics show an improvement from his rookie year to sophomore season.

2015: 11 games – 18 receptions – 39 targets – 225 yards – 12.5 yards per reception – one touchdown

2016: 15 games – 33 receptions – 60 targets – 528 yards – 16 yards per reception – two touchdowns

The numbers are not horrible, but they aren’t great either. Mike Wells, an ESPN staff writer for the Colts, published an article at the end of last season noting Dorsett’s drop rate of 5.8% leading the team. Do these stats through two seasons represent good value on a first-round pick? As it stands now, the verdict is no. But this does not mean Dorsett won’t continue to develop, possibly morphing into a premier talent. The fans of the Colts certainly hope the progression for the young receiver will make a sizable leap in year three.