Misused in New England, Phillip Dorsett Has Chance to Thrive with Seahawks

Thomas Hall10

Prior to the start of the new league year, the Seahawks were expected to add at least one new receiver to the team through free agency.

On Tuesday, after spending most of their free agent dollars addressing the offensive line, Seattle added new competition for the No. 3 receiver role next season. As reported by Josina Anderson of ESPN, speedy receiver Phillip Dorsett agreed to terms with the team on a one-year deal.

Dorsett, a fifth-year pro out of Miami, has spent the last three seasons with the Patriots after being acquired from the Colts and he’s coming off his best performance since the 2016 campaign.

In total, the former first-round pick played in 14 regular season games and caught 29 of his 54 targets for 397 yards. In addition, the 27-year old receiver also produced a career-high five touchdowns along with a catch rate of 53.7 percent.

Despite the 5-foot-10 receiver’s production from this past season, he wasn’t utilized to his full potential during his three seasons with the Patriots. Even though he finished the 40-yard dash in 4.33 seconds, the former top pick was rarely targeted deep down the field in New England, as the team has always relied heavily on the short-to-intermediate passing game.

Since the 2017 campaign, Dorsett has averaged just 8.4 yards per target, 13 yards per catch and a measly 19.8 yards per game. Prior to this past season, the former Patriot only completed five catches for 20 yards or more and was unable to reel in any receptions that were at least 40 yards down the field.

Before Dorsett was traded from Indianapolis to New England in 2017, the explosive receiver displayed glimpses of his potential back in 2016. But in large part due to how he was used by the Patriots over the last three seasons, he’s struggled to take the next step in his development.

Overall, Dorsett played in 15 regular season games and caught 33 of his 59 targets (55.9 percent catch rate) for a career-high 528 yards in 2016. While he only produced a pair of touchdown receptions, he did produce 8.9 yards per target, 16 yards per catch, and 35.2 yards per game. He also made eight catches of at least 20 yards and four catches of at least 40 yards during his second season with the Colts.

With teams compensating for his speed with defenders consistently giving him plenty of cushion in coverage, Dorsett had room to operate as a route runner and create separation more efficiently.

During the 2016 campaign, Dorsett averaged 7.1 yards of cushion (tied for seventh-most among all receivers with at least 43 targets) and 2.9 yards of separation (tied for 25th-most), according to Next-Gen-Stats.com. In comparison, the explosive receiver averaged just 5.3 yards of cushion (tied for 21st-lowest) along with 2.9 yards of separation (tied for 36th-most) in 2019.

Since the Seahawks have proven to be very efficient and successful attacking downfield with their aerial attack orchestrated by Russell Wilson, there’s a very good chance Dorsett will be able to replicate, if not surpass, his 2016 production next season.

With both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf averaging at least nine yards per target in 2019 and commanding the attention of opposing coordinators, it seems like Dorsett could be a perfect fit in Seattle. If he can stay healthy next season, then the Florida native could serve as another deep threat option for Wilson in 2020, forming arguably the best receiving corps they've had in years.

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