Indianapolis Colts: Expectations for Phillip Dorsett


The Indianapolis Colts made one of the most surprising selections of the entire 2015 NFL draft when they picked wide receiver Phillip Dorsett with the 29th overall pick over a bunch of talented defensive players that would have covered a position of need on that side of the ball for the Colts.

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While general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano stated that they strictly followed the BPA-strategy and Dorsett was the highest-ranked player on their board when they were on the clock the pick of the speedster from the “U” might also be an alarm bell for T.Y. Hilton, who is toward the end of his rookie deal and will likely look for a big contract soon.

If he keeps playing like he did in 2014 when he hauled in 82 passes for 1346 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking in the top 10 at his position according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Hilton will definitely get a fat check somewhere since wide receiver like him are a hot commodity in today’s NFL. The Colts, however, might not be able to throw a ton of money his way because they will have to deal with Andrew Luck‘s contract first and foremost.

Hilton and Dorsett have a similar skill set and wide receiver was not a position of need for the Colts after the acquisitions of veteran Andre Johnson and CFL sensation Duron Carter: that’s why the pick was a head-scratcher for a lot of fans and NFL writers as well. Since Dorsett is now officially a member of the Colts Nation (at least for the next few years or so) let’s see how the coaching staff can use his talents at the next level.

Feb 21, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Phillip Dorsett catches a pass during the 2015 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports


Despite limited size (5’10”, 185 pounds) Dorsett can play outside the numbers and be a threat for opposing defenses thanks to his speed. He can get on top of defenders in the blink of an eye and once he’s past the cornerback it’s almost impossible to run him down. Opponents will generally avoid to play  too much press coverage against Dorsett because he’s a burner and any defense will be in trouble if they let him go deep when he’s lined up outside.

However, I believe Dorsett will need a handful of games to adapt his game to the pro-caliber cornerbacks of the NFL and that’s why he will likely see the majority of his snaps as the slot receiver in the Colts’ offense in my opinion.

During the first rookie minicamp the Colts organized last week Dorsett saw some action from the slot, as Kevin Bowen of reported:

“Dorsett made a couple of impressive catches over the middle during 11-on-11 work. [He] lined up in the slot on several occasions Saturday as the Colts continue to move the first-round pick around the offense.”

Dorsett’s presence will also change Pep Hamilton’s philosophy a bit: over the last couple of seasons the Colts’ offensive coordinator used a lot of 12-personnel groupings (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR) but now that he has to work with a minimum of four first-string worthy receivers he will likely try to adapt his scheme and use a lot more of 11-personnel groupings (1 RB, 1 TE, 3 WR).


Dorsett will have competition, but I’m confident he will eventually win a significant role on special teams before the season begins. He is already returning kicks and punts during rookie minicamp, getting used to some of his new special team-mates.

At Miami he played in 45 games, starting 30 of them as the starting kick/punt returner. He averaged 19.1 yards per kick return and 5.4 yards per punt return on 50 total returns but never took one to the house. As he was more and more involved offensively with the Hurricanes his special team duties were reduced and last season he put his hands on just 9 balls, one punt return and 8 kick returns, collecting 110 total yards.

I’m not a big fan of stat predictions (especially in early May) but I will say this: Dorsett has the potential and the chance to go over 1,200 all-purpose yards in his rookie year.

Next: Colts: Two UDFAs who can make the team

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