Editor’s Note: To help you dominate your rookie drafts, this series will feature a look at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of over 40 dynasty rookie draft prospects and run all through the month of May and even into June. We’ll cover all the premier prospects but also give you critical information on some of the lesser known talents. All of these rookie updates will be loaded into our ever-evolving 2018 Rookie Draft Guide – the ultimate resource for dynasty enthusiasts all over the world.
Name: Dante Pettis
Born: October 23, 1995
Position: Wide Receiver
Pro Team: San Francisco 49ers
College Team: Washington Huskies
Draft Status: Round two, Pick 44
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- Height: 6’1”
- Weight: 186 pounds
- Arms: 32.25”
- Hands: 9.5”
Pettis’ biggest strength won’t net you many fantasy points as he is an excellent punt returner. That said, when he has the ball in his hands on offense, his vision translates right over as he picks his way through defenders, gaining extra yards very consistently.
Outside of his vision, Pettis does have a very good catch radius, maybe in part due to the fact Washington quarterback Jake Browning couldn’t find the strike zone with a map at times. Also, while he doesn’t have super strong hands, Pettis rarely drops a pass. I would also say he is a slightly above average route runner, specializing in comebacks thanks to a noodle-armed quarterback.
Pettis is also very smooth in his transitions. He uses his change of direction to get separation from defensive backs since he can’t throw them off himself, nor can he really outrun many, especially those of an NFL caliber.
Pettis doesn’t seem to have a “my ball” mentality about him. On contested catches, he simply isn’t very physical. It’s not like he doesn’t leap or try, you just don’t get the sense of nastiness the way to do when someone like Dez Bryant high-points the football. While Pettis does a lot of things well, he doesn’t really wow you.
Since he lacks that killer instinct, that also led him to being the most neglected No. 1 receiver I may have ever seen. Washington didn’t go out of its way to force balls to him, not did the offense seek him out in critical spots. Even when Browning was scrambling around, it was clear he wasn’t necessarily looking for Pettis.
Pettis also isn’t a blazer. He didn’t run a 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, which leads me to believe that he knew he wouldn’t time very well. That said, he does run away from plenty of defenders on punt returns, but maybe that’s the adrenaline kicking in.
If draft capital means anything, Pettis should be in good shape. He was selected in the middle of the second round. On top of that, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan isn’t someone to let a good offensive piece go to waste – he’ll find a role that will play to Pettis’ strengths.
While the depth chart today won’t find Pettis at the top of it, he will find snaps and targets pretty easy to come by. Outside of the top couple of wide receivers, the San Francisco pass catching corps is a bunch of has-beens and retreads that have had their shot. Pettis is the shiny new toy.
They might be has-beens and retreads, but at least they have experience in actual NFL games. The 49ers also drafted Richie James in the seventh round and he is an excellent route runner out of the slot and could steal some targets if he shows up big in camp.
While I don’t think Pettis will win a starting gig right out of camp, I do think he gets plenty of chances to show his stuff. I wouldn’t draft him with the hopes of WR1 numbers right out of the gate, but he is someone who could have his role grow over the course of the season, especially if he can win the slot receiver job.
Teams love to pair a young quarterback, say like a certain handsome signal caller in San Francisco, with a young wide receiver and let those two develop a chemistry throughout their careers. The pairing of Pettis with Jimmy Garoppolo will actually be beneficial for both players. Garoppolo to be way more accurate than anyone Pettis has seen in recent memory. On the flip side, Pettis can erase some sins if Garoppolo gets in a bind.
NFL.com‘s Lance Zierlein compared Pettis to former Bengals wide receiver TJ Houshmanzadah. I always thought TJ “Whosyourmama” was pretty physical, which isn’t really Pettis’ thing, though. Pettis is more like a poor man’s Keenan Allen in my eyes. In short, he’s a decent route runner with a good catch radius. He’s quicker than fast and needs someone on the other side to stretch the field vertically to open up some space. He is electric in the open field, though.
PROJECTED RANGE FOR A ROOKIE DRAFT
I’ll be honest, before I watched his tape for this article, I would have told you Pettis probably belonged in the mid-to-late second round. After reviewing him with a closer eye, I would say that if you want him, I wouldn’t wait any later than 2.04 to get him, which is right in line with his May ADP. You might even snag him earlier in round tow if you’re really feeling frisky and have the belief he can be a PPR dynamo.
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