BALTIMORE — All of the attention that has been placed on the 40 yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine has made more and more people focus on a prospect’s track speed. There are some prospects that can run a fast 40 yard dash but don’t have the ability to transfer that speed onto the field. Miami wide receiver Phillip Dorsett is certainly not one of those players. He plays just as fast as he times. His speed truly shows up on the field.
NFL teams are always looking for that field stretching wide receiver that will make defenses always have to account for them with a safety over top. It’s nice to be able to dictate coverages with speed and it opens up a lot of things. Dorsett is a player that commands attention because of his deep threat ability.
Dorsett is most dangerous from the slot position. He has the unique ability to be a serious vertical threat from the slot. A lot of the slot receivers today are smaller, shifty guys that can get open in a hurry because of their quickness. Dorsett pierces defenses on three routes from the slot position; the post, corner and nine route.
He uses his speed to simply run right by defensive backs. The quarterback is able to throw the ball to a spot after taking a short drop while Dorsett is still in his initial route stem. Defensive backs are hesitant to press Dorsett at the line so often times, he gets a free release and eats up the cushion quickly.
The respect that defenders have for his speed causes them to bail out when he comes off of the line of scrimmage. This makes it easy for Dorsett to throttle down and run a comeback or curl route. Dorsett is good at making his deep routes look the same as his other routes so when he wants to break off of the deep pattern, he can get open easily.
Some look at his size and feel that he isn’t suitable to impact the game from a true X position. Watching his film at Miami will show that he has gotten quite a bit of experience lining up on the ball and getting vertical. Dorsett’s game against Florida State showed how he can beat press coverage on the outside.
On the outside, Dorsett knows how to get open by not only using his speed but using his explosiveness out of his breaks. When the two are combined, it is very hard to cover him out on the island. Dorsett knows how to give that slight lean outside before sticking his foot in the ground and accelerating to the post.
When talking to Dorsett, it’s very evident that he has a thorough understanding of how to play the position. He talked about how he attacks defenders when he is lined up at the X position. “There’s a lot of work that goes into going outside and then transitioning inside. I played both at Miami so just winning on releases and techniques.” Dorsett said; “Being a fast guy, you can’t just go out there and just run. They will try to push you wide. It’s all about using your hands, your releases, stacking the guy and winning with speed.”
He takes advantage of how his speed threatens defenders. They read his outside lean and think that he is running the nine route. This makes them open up their hips slightly to the outside. Once that happens, there is no chance that the defensive back can stay with him. All he has to do is hope that the quarterback delivers a throw that he can run under and focus on catching the ball.
Dorsett isn’t just a deep threat however. He can use his speed while running underneath routes also. His speed will cause a lot of teams to play zone. When that happens, Dorsett is able to run a shallow cross and settle down in a window that opens up in the zone defense. A quick, precise throw from the quarterback will give Dorsett the chance to make the catch and get some serious yards after the catch.
The video below shows how Dorsett can beat man when running the shallow crossing route. The defense is in soft man coverage. Notice how much farther off the ball the guy that is covering Dorsett is than the others.
The play design is brilliant. It is set up to get the ball to the running back for a big play if both the corner and the linebacker go with Dorsett. The linebacker decides to stay with his man, the running back and that opens up the middle of the field for Dorsett. The cushion that Dorsett has allows him to get a free release off of the ball and get right into the slant route. The corner has no chance of closing on him.
2015 Draft Prospect Spotlight: Miami WR Phillip Dorsett
Dorsett doesn’t fly to the other side of the field; rather he looks for the ball as soon as he cleared the linebacker. The quarterback delivers a very catchable ball and Dorsett brings in the catch before he turns on the jets. The receivers at the bottom of the screen take their defenders down the field and clears out a lot of room for Dorsett to run. Dorsett uses his instant speed and gains another 30+ yards after the catch.
Draft Projection: 2nd Round
Why should the Ravens consider this prospect?
Phillip Dorsett is a speed demon. The Ravens are in need of a deep threat. Dorsett can be that vertical guy on the outside but when he is in the slot, he will really push safeties back. This will open up the running game even more. Dorsett’s speed will keep teams from stacking the box and that will give the running backs less defenders to worry about when they make the designed cutbacks in the zone blocking scheme.
Dorsett is the kind of receiver that defensive coordinators hate to go against because of their ability to gain yards in chunks. Defenses hate giving up big plays. Dorsett specializes in them. Matching his speed with Joe Flacco’s ability and willingness to throw the deep pass in any situation is a bad thing for defense that have to face the Ravens. Dorsett is also a very capable return man.
NFL Comparison: Mike Wallace
One thing comes to mind when watching Mike Wallace and Phillip Dorsett and that’s the fact that they run so fast but do so effortlessly. As NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said; “Wallace and Dorsett have what you call ‘easy speed.’” Like Wallace, Dorsett will make defensive coordinators commit to not allowing them to beat them deep. Both of these players easily run in the 4.3 range and it 100% shows up on the field.
Ironically, Mike Wallace made a living running that shallow cross and using his speed to blow by defenders after he catches the ball. That’s something that Dorsett did frequently at Miami. They can run the post from the slot and simply run by defensive backs on go routes when lining up outside.