Wake Forest wide receiver Greg Dortch is skipping his final two years of college eligibility to declare for the NFL draft. Is he someone dynasty owners should be paying attention to? There are reasons both for optimism and for restraint.1
First, the good news: Dortch was extremely productive at a young age in his two seasons at Wake Forest. He played only eight games in his redshirt freshman season, but he managed 722 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in those games, good for a 41 percent dominator rating and an age 19 breakout. He followed that up with over 1,000 yards in his first full season. Although his TD production dipped slightly in 2018, he still maintained a dominator rating over 36 percent.
Dortch also produced on special teams, returning both kicks and punts for the Demon Deacons. He returned two punts for TDs in 2018,2 and amassed over 1,200 total return yards over his two-year career.
|Year||Punt Ret||Yds||Avg||TD||Kick Ret||Yds||Avg||TD|
Age and Early Declaration
Some of the best reasons for enthusiasm are Dortch’s early breakout age and the fact that he declared early for the NFL draft. Underclassmen drastically outperform seniors over their first two years in the NFL.3
And Anthony Amico found breakout age to be the main component of the most important split in his decision tree.
Dortch’s combination of breakout age and final season receiving yardage market share lands him squarely in the right-most node of Anthony’s tree, good for a historical 66 percent chance of having a 200-point season within his first three years in the NFL. The fact that he declared early and will be a 21-year-old rookie implies a 35 percent chance of having a 200-point PPR season within his first two years.
Size and Athleticism
If you’re going back to the beginning of the article trying to find out how big Dortch is, don’t worry — you haven’t missed anything. I didn’t mention Dortch’s size at the top because I wanted to you to keep reading.
Unfortunately, Dortch’s biggest red flag got even bigger at the combine. He was listed at 5 feet 9 inches, but measured only 5 feet 7 inches. His measured weight of 173 pounds was not a surprise, but is not therefore less concerning.
He did not participate in any athletic testing at the combine, but his physical measurements give us enough to generate an initial idea of potential comps. If we leave the custom draft position field blank, the new Box Score Scout app imputes a draft position behind the scenes based on the other metrics available. Using this imputed draft position, Dortch’s comps turn heads:
Unfortunately, the Box Score Scout’s opinion of Dortch is more like mine than the NFL scouting community’s. He’s generally considered a Day 3 pick, rather than a top-100 pick like all of the non-rookie comps on this list.
The other thing the Box Score Scout doesn’t know about is Dortch’s athleticism, which is unfortunate because another thing uniting most comps on this list is above-average speed. All but two of the players listed here who ran at the combine turned in forties below 4.44. The two who didn’t — Marqise Lee and Michael Gallup — outweigh Dortch by at least 20 pounds.
Dortch was timed between 4.49 and 4.52 at his pro day.4 Those forty times would be fine if he were 193 pounds. At 173 pounds, that’s disappointing, and doesn’t appear to bode well for his NFL outlook.
A potential saving grace is his special teams usage. We know that special teams production can often be a proxy for some sort of hidden athleticism, so the hope is Dortch’s real on-field athleticism isn’t properly revealed by the sort of tests they do at the combine and pro days. His special teams prowess is being noticed by NFL scouts, and in concert with his receiving production reportedly makes him an early Day 3 pick rather than a late Day 3 pick.
If we give him a reasonable draft position in this range (150), his comps are more sobering:
There are still some interesting names here, but only one player on this list weighs less than 190 pounds.5 But that sort of speaks to what a unique prospect Dortch is. There just aren’t many players of his small stature with his underwhelming tested athleticism who are as productive as he is at such a young age.6 Perhaps fans can reasonably hope that his ability to succeed despite physical and athletic disadvantages continues in the NFL. If he lands on a creative offense, he could be an intriguing flyer at the end of the third round of rookie drafts.
- An older version of this article was published on January 11, 2019, before any athletic testing. (back)
- Both in the same game. (back)
- In a sense Dortch is a double early declare, since he enters the NFL with two years of eligibility remaining. There aren’t enough examples of players who have done this to make any claims about whether it might provide an even greater advantage. The only recent examples I can come up with are Roger Lewis and Davante Adams, which leave us with about the widest range of outcomes possible. Lewis went undrafted out of Bowling Green. The fact that Dortch played in a more competitive conference may give him the edge in draft position, which makes a huge difference. (back)
- He apparently excelled in the agility drills, although no numbers were reported. (back)
- And that player, Paul Richardson, ran a 4.40 forty at the combine. (back)
- Though this uniqueness isn’t necessarily a good thing. (back)