clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2017 Colts Training Camp: Is there still hope for WR Phillip Dorsett?

New, comments
NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Phillip Dorsett was picked by the Indianapolis Colts in the back half of the first round in 2015. The only problem was, for most fans, he played the wrong position.

At wide receiver, that season, the Colts had T.Y. Hilton, a newly acquired future Hall of Famer in Andre Johnson, the promising young Donte Moncrief and a few interesting prospects at the bottom of the roster such as Duron Carter and Griff Whalen.

Since then, Johnson was a bit of a let-down in a Colts uniform and retired in 2016, Moncrief has been oft-injured, Carter is back in the CFL, and Whalen has been bouncing around the league for a few seasons.

Needless to say, a bit of a hole was created at the position.

Still, Dorsett couldn’t place a stranglehold on a starting spot and as he enters training camp for his third NFL season fans are left to wonder there is still hope that he can carve out a meaningful role in the Colts offense. The simplest way of assessing Dorsett’s chances to turn the corner and establish himself in the NFL is to look at the early career trajectories of players drafted in about the same range as Dorsett.

Below are statistics from the first 3 years, of player’s careers, chosen between picks #20-32 of the first-round spanning from 2010 to 2015.


WR Stats Year 1

Draft Year Pick # Name GP Rec Rec/G Yards Yds/G TD TD/G YPC Drops/G Targets/G
Draft Year Pick # Name GP Rec Rec/G Yards Yds/G TD TD/G YPC Drops/G Targets/G
2015 20 N. Agholor 13 23 1.77 283 21.77 1 0.077 12.3 0.31 3.38
26 B. Perriman N/A
29 P. Dorsett 11 18 1.64 225 20.45 1 0.09 12.5 0 3.55
2014 20 B. Cooks 10 53 5.3 550 55 3 0.3 10.4 0.1 6.9
28 K. Benjamin 16 73 4.56 1008 63 9 0.56 13.8 0.625 9.06
2013 27 D. Hopkins 16 52 3.25 802 50.13 2 0.125 15.4 0.13 5.69
29 C. Patterson 16 45 2.81 469 29.31 4 0.25 10.4 0.19 4.81
2012 20 K. Wright 15 64 4.27 626 41.73 4 0.25 9.8 0.33 6.93
30 A.J. Jenkins 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.063 0.063
2011 26 J. Baldwin 11 21 1.91 254 23.1 1 0.09 12.1 0.45 4.82
2010 22 D. Thomas 10 22 2.2 283 28.3 2 0.2 12.9 0.2 3.9
24 D. Bryant 12 45 3.75 561 46.75 6 0.5 12.5 0.17 6
Overall Mean 12.09090909 37.81818182 2.86 460.0909091 34.50363636 3 0.222 11.1 0.2334545455 5.009363636
Overall Median 12 45 2.81 469 29.31 2 0.2 12.3 0.19 4.82

WR Stats Year 2

Draft Year Pick # Name GP Rec Rec/G Yards Yds/G TD TD/G YPC Drops/G Targets/G
Draft Year Pick # Name GP Rec Rec/G Yards Yds/G TD TD/G YPC Drops/G Targets/G
2015 20 N. Agholor 15 36 2.4 365 24.3 2 0.13 10.1 0.27 4.6
26 B. Perriman 16 33 2.06 499 31.19 3 0.19 15.1 0.31 4.13
29 P. Dorsett 15 33 2.2 528 35.2 2 0.13 16 0.2 3.93
2014 20 B. Cooks 16 84 5.25 1138 71.1 9 0.56 13.5 0.13 8.06
28 K. Benjamin N/A
2013 27 D. Hopkins 16 76 4.75 1210 75.63 6 0.38 15.9 0.25 7.94
29 C. Patterson 16 33 2.06 384 24 1 0.06 11.6 0.13 4.19
2012 20 K. Wright 16 94 5.88 1079 67.44 2 0.13 11.5 0.44 8.69
30 A.J. Jenkins 16 8 0.5 130 8.13 0 0 16.3 0.13 1.06
2011 26 J. Baldwin 15 20 1.33 325 21.67 1 0.07 16.3 0 3.13
2010 22 D. Thomas 11 32 2.91 551 50.09 4 0.36 17.2 0.55 6.36
24 D. Bryant 15 63 4.2 928 61.87 9 0.6 14.7 0.13 6.87
Overall Mean 15.18181818 46.54545455 3.049090909 648.8181818 42.78363636 3.545454545 0.2372727273 14.38181818 0.2309090909 5.36
Overall Median 16 33 2.4 528 35.2 2 0.13 15.1 0.2 4.6

WR Stats Year 3

Draft Year Pick # Name GP Rec Rec/G Yards Yds/G TD TD/G YPC Drops/G Targets/G
Draft Year Pick # Name GP Rec Rec/G Yards Yds/G TD TD/G YPC Drops/G Targets/G
2015 20 N. Agholor N/A
26 B. Perriman N/A
29 P. Dorsett N/A
2014 20 B. Cooks 16 78 4.88 1173 73.3 8 0.5 13.5 0.19 7.31
28 K. Benjamin 16 63 3.94 941 58.8 7 0.44 14.9 0.38 7.38
2013 27 D. Hopkins 16 111 6.94 1521 95 11 0.69 13.7 0.19 12
29 C. Patterson 16 2 0.13 10 0.63 0 0 5 0 0.13
2012 20 K. Wright 14 57 4.07 715 51.07 6 0.43 12.5 0 6.64
30 A.J. Jenkins 9 9 1 93 10.3 0 0 10.3 0 1.67
2011 26 J. Baldwin 7 3 0.43 28 4 0 0 9.3 0 1.29
2010 22 D. Thomas 16 94 5.88 1434 89.63 10 0.63 15.3 0.63 8.81
24 D. Bryant 16 92 5.75 1382 86.38 12 0.75 15 0.56 8.63
Overall Mean 14 56.55555556 3.668888889 810.7777778 52.12333333 6 0.3822222222 12.16666667 0.2166666667 5.984444444
Overall Median 16 63 4.07 941 58.8 7 0.44 13.5 0.19 7.31

I’ve chosen to not go beyond the first round, because regardless of draft position, first-round picks come with added pressure. Dealing with that pressure can be a make-or-break prospect for some people.

Cordarelle Patterson and Jon Baldwin may be examples of guys that couldn’t handle the heat.

Patterson is a bonafide return man that hasn’t quite made it as a receiver and may even be better suited at a different position. The Minnesota Vikings also decided to let their former 29th overall pick walk to Oakland this off-season for a 2-year $8.5 million contract.

Baldwin was the 26th overall pick in 2011 for the Kansas City Chiefs, who was traded to the San Francisco 49ers in his sophomore campaign and has flamed out of the league since then.

I bring these two up, because Dorsett has similar numbers to them in their first 2 seasons in the league. The closest number are Targets/G and Rec/G while Dorsett did showcase an uptick in year 2, comparatively, in terms of TDs/G and Yds/G.

While this doesn’t guarantee that Dorsett will follow their paths, as we’ve seen our fair share of late bloomers in Indy (Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark for example), these are still not promising comparisons.

However, another pass-catcher had a similar, even if a tad better, first 2 seasons in the NFL — Demaryius Thomas.

Looking at that name gives you some hope that Dorsett can surge in his 3rd season just as Thomas did, but there is an important caveat. In Thomas’ first 2 seasons, his quarterbacks were Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow, and in his 3rd year, where he was 4th in the league in receiving yards, he was rewarded with Peyton Manning.

Even though Dorsett has had to struggle through long periods of Matt Hasselbeck and Scott Tolzien, he has had his chances with Andrew Luck and still hasn’t capitalized.

Does that leave no hope for Dorsett?

Certainly not.

Examining these young receivers is not a predictive exercise, and there are several factors that will play important roles, such as quarterback, scheme and usage. Dorsett was at or above the median in almost all statistics except targets in his second season, so there is a glimmer of hope — even in the raw numbers.

Colts roster changes and summer competition might be the biggest threat to his chances to break out in 2017. Early indications suggest that Chester Rogers is the early front-runner for the 3rd wide receiver spot. Additionally, GM Chris Ballard added another viable wide receiver in Kamar Aiken via free agency.

This creates a rather crowded field at the top of the position and Dorsett will have to really prove himself to earn significant playing time — especially with the new mantra of competition that Ballard has brought over from Kansas City.

If that isn’t already enough to overcome, Luck has been out the entire off-season with a shoulder injury and that has hindered Dorsett’s opportunity to create chemistry with his franchise quarterback.

Though Dorsett’s prospects still look rather bleak, Stephen Holder of the IndyStar has had positive things to say about his performance during the first two days of training camp.

While Holder’s opinion doesn’t mean a whole lot for Dorsett’s chances to make a meaningful contribution this year, if he can get some momentum going, and if he can draw the same praise and recognition from the coaching staff, he may yet prove his doubters wrong in 2017.

We’ll just have to wait and see.