The Indianapolis Colts drafted wide receiver Phillip Dorsett out of Miami last night with their first round pick, and almost immediately many began wondering if the Colts planned to use him also as a returner as well as a receiver.
In his conference call with Indianapolis media shortly after he was drafted, Dorsett was open to playing special teams. "Yes, definitely," he said. "I think I can be a guy who comes in and returns punts and helps on special teams. I'll do whatever it takes. It doesn't matter to me."
It sounds like the Colts do intend on using the incredibly fast Dorsett as a return man, at least returning punts. Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Friday afternoon, Dorsett said that he knows for a fact that the Colts will use him as a punt returner (per Colts.com's Kevin Bowen):
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Phillip Dorsett today on <a href="https://twitter.com/SiriusXMNFL">@SiriusXMNFL</a>: "They are definitely going to use me as a punt returner. I know that for a fact." <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ColtsDraft?src=hash">#ColtsDraft</a></p>— Kevin Bowen (@KBowenColts) <a href="https://twitter.com/KBowenColts/status/594190065737273344">May 1, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The way Dorsett said that would seem to strongly indicate that he has been told that by the Colts already. At Miami, Dorsett had a little bit of experience as a return man in four years. He returned 25 kickoffs, averaging 19.1 yards per return with a long of 37 yards, and he returned 25 punts as well, averaging 5.4 yards per return with a long of 20 yards.
Dorsett has drawn a number of comparisons to T.Y. Hilton, and the Colts had Hilton as their punt returner in his rookie season until he became too valuable to keep back there, and Hilton did a pretty good job there. With Hilton now the team's number one wideout and with others like Andre Johnson and Donte Moncrief at the receiver position as well, it's unlikely that Dorsett will be considered nearly as important right away, and therefore the Colts are likely to put him as a return man to see how he does with his speed.
Currently on the Colts' roster, Josh Cribbs is the return specialist, but his job is very much in danger after a rather disappointing season last year. Griff Whalen, a wide receiver now facing an uphill battle to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, would be another option as a returner, but again, he might not make the roster. If Phillip Dorsett can be the Colts' returner, it would eliminate the need to keep someone on the roster simply as a returner, which would be a nice luxury for the Colts. And it sounds like the plan is indeed to use Dorsett as a returner, at least as a punt returner.