Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect Greg Dortch, WR of Wake Forest. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
You know that player who catches your attention and even though it’s hard to justify? Greg Dortch is that player for me in the 2019 class. Dortch only played two years at Wake Forest and while his production numbers were positive, the ancillary factors on his profile (from size to athletic testing) have a hard time propping him up. He has a solid special team background, however, and has done well enough that I still favor him over unproductive players even if they could be in better positions to get draft capital.
So let’s break each aspect of his profile down and show you what I mean.
Dortch’s raw receiving numbers are solid, however, I prefer to lean on the percentage a player earns of his team’s offense. This both has a stronger correlation to NFL success and provides a better, more context-driven idea of who he was for his team compared to his competition.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Concentrating on yards, as they tend to have more signal, Dortch was above the age-adjusted curve for successful wide receivers only in his final year at age 20. He did, however, break out at age 19 with over 20% of his team’s receiving offense (inducing touchdowns). Owning 35% of yards in his final year is significant, especially against ACC competition.
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It’s notable he was on the threshold of the age curve at age 19 in yards as well. Still, his overall production was not enough by itself to push him too high up my board. He owned a 27% and 32% share of the team’s touchdowns in these seasons.
Finally, he also produced over 430 return yards as a punt returner and 750 yards as a kick returner while in college.
I think his special teams skills, which was impressive, together with his above-average production will make him an asset to an NFL team. This could lead to opportunity and, given what else we know about him, I think he could take advantage of opportunity in the NFL.
It’s a shame this section comes before the measurables. I’ll have to telegraph some of what I’m going to say in advance.
Have you ever read any a Terry Pratchett novel? Well, there is a character in several of them called Cohen The Barbarian. He’s undefeatable in a fight despite being really, really old. All he says about this is that he has experience, so he just makes sure to be where the enemy’s sword isn’t. I get that same feeling watching Greg Dortch. He’s not ultra-fast, he’s not ultra-agile, but he just always seems to be where the ball is, and where the defender isn’t.
Dortch isn’t old like Cohen, but he plays wide receiver really well. He knows when to move and where to move to. He can run the heck out of a route and combines it with soft hands and a strong awareness of the ball’s location for some great catches.
Want to see a bizarre physical profile? Dortch had surgery on his wrist and was unable to perform athlete drills at the combine. He’s also tiny.
We really don’t know much about Dortch’s athlete testing right now. Although early news from his pro day is that he ran between 4.4 and 4.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Since pro day times are notoriously faster than combine times, we have to assume he runs in the high 4.5s.
As a 5’7”, 177 lbs receiver, the dice are already stacked against him. On the surface of things, being average in his 40 time would seem to pile bad news on top of mediocre. But I have a soft spot of less physically impressive players who produce.
He was too small, he wasn’t very fast, and weighed so little he’d have trouble working as a paperweight. So then why was he so hard to cover? He literally dominated his teammates for production and opportunity, and ran rings round solid defenses, with no physical advantages.
This line of reasoning has to lead me down some dark paths it’s not exactly a high hit rate group. But I’d rather strike out on the player with fewer raw tools and natural talent, than one with all the tools and none of that talent.
Right now, Dortch is an early third round pick. His landing spot in the NFL will give us a better idea of his chances to earn targets. Look for him to gain early momentum through his special team’s ability in his first year. If he can earn respect on special teams, I think any fear the NFL has about his athleticism, or we have about his size, could fade.
Image from Dortch’s DLF Player Page.
Having said that, as a player with only an outside shot at a top three round pick, I think we may be in for a long wait. While wide receivers tend to take longer anyway (and later picks especially) we also know Dortch’s most likely path to playing time is through special teams. That’s a virtual confirmation that it will take him years before he shows up in a box score, if ever.
Of course, the NFL draft is a crazy process, and an NFL season is an unpredictable event. So, anything’s possible. I think Dortch’s value will hold, as most wide receivers do, through next off-season. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him traded for a mid-third pick in 2020 in dynasty leagues.
Reading between the lines of Greg Dortch’s profile, I think I can see a player who is naturally gifted at the game. Is that enough to make up for his physical mediocrity or troubling size at the NFL level? I don’t know.
With little hope his value can increase over the course of 2019 (without knowing his landing spot), I think it’s hard to make a big push for Dortch. However, if the players I’m excited about at wide receiver or running back are already gone, I may be happy to take my chances on rostering him over a rookie QB4 (in a single quarterback league), or a third tight end.
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