On December 30th, Dante Pettis will play his final collegiate game before heading off to the NFL. Pettis will have a tough matchup against Penn State’s defense, but wide receiver won’t be the only place where his presence will be felt.
Pettis burst onto the scene last year for Washington with 15 touchdowns. While he was the team’s second-leading receiver behind top-10 pick John Ross, he still managed a combined receiving market share of 0.27. This year, as the team’s top receiver, his dominator rating jumped up to 0.33, which is an impressive if not elite number.
Using Kevin Cole’s regression tree, Pettis falls into a node in which just 2.6 percent of receivers had a top-24 fantasy campaign within their first two professional seasons. However, Pettis has a much higher chance of success based on his special teams’ ability. One of the most prolific punt returners of all time, he’s the all-time leader in punt return TDs (nine) and averaged 14 yards per punt return. He’s one of just 10 players since 2000 to have at least 20 career receiving TDs and 800 career punt return yards.
Antonio Brown, Jamison Crowder, and Wes Welker all have been successful. Ryan Broyles was a promising player who was never able to fully recover from injuries, and Bernard Berrian had three straight top-36 seasons.
Athletically, Pettis should be one of the top WRs in this class. He’s not a big receiver at 6-foot-0 and 200 pounds, but his athleticism makes up for it. The most recent testing results I could find for him were from the 2016 Husky combine:
- 4.39 forty yard dash
- 41-inch vertical hump
- 129-inch broad jump
These numbers would put him in an elite range. The only receivers to hit all these marks since 2005 are Chris Conley and Tiquan Underwood. Mike Wallace is the only other player to come particularly close, as his 40-inch vertical jump just missed the mark. Wallace seems to be a decent comp for Pettis. The two appear to be similar athletically, with the caveat being that Wallace ran a 4.28, a time well out of Pettis’ range. Their production is also very similar as Wallace posted a 0.33 and 0.27 dominator rating in his last two seasons. Wallace was also a solid return man with over 1,200 career kick return yards.
As a high schooler Pettis had the following numbers:
- 10.98 100m (69th percentile for WR)
- 21.41 200m (95th)
- 24’07” long jump (98th)
- 44’07” triple jump (77th)
- 4.61 forty (89th)
- 35.8 vertical (90th)
- 4.18 shuttle (92nd)
Pettis has clearly been an elite athlete since high school, and I expect that trend to continue at this year’s NFL combine.
I see Pettis becoming a very solid NFL player. He may end up being a better real-life player than fantasy player, as his punt return ability will likely allow him to sustain a long career in the league. But his ceiling is a player like Emmanuel Sanders (who also was a very similar athlete to Pettis). If Pettis ends up in an amazing situation with his athletic ability, he has the potential to flourish.