Scouting Profile: Wide Receiver Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis, Washington
Weight: 186 pounds
40-yard dash: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
It’s always disappointing when you can’t see a wide receiver among his peers at the Combine, and that’s what happened with Pettis, who sat out with an injured ankle. He also didn’t partake in Washington’s Pro Day, meaning we have only his tape to go off. It’s what should create 90 percent of your opinion, so we’ll be fine, though it’s not ideal. Pettis is a utility player who is used all over the formation, and someone who can help on special teams as a return man.
Pettis wasn’t someone who posted gaudy stats, either. While he did score seven touchdowns in 2017, six of them came in two games, meaning he took full advantage of weaker competition. His usage was somewhat sporadic, as he finished with three or less catches in 5-of-13 games, but also had two games with at least 10 catches. He’s an interesting prospect because his hands are so solid, but there’s a lot of reason to think he may not be a long-time starter at wide receiver.
Size/Versatility: 2.5 out of 5 stars
The best way to describe his size is “average,” and maybe a little below if we’re being honest. He’s just 186 pounds, which would mean he’s among the lighter wide receivers at his height. He’s not going to be jumping over or running through defenders any time soon, but that’s not what he’ll be drafted for. His versatility helps make up for some of his size deficiencies, as he can play at every position on the field, including taking a reverse in the backfield. He’s going to be used on special teams to start his career as a punt/kickoff returner and should do well.
Route Running/Ability to Separate: 2.5 out of 5 stars
For being a somewhat smaller receiver, he has little twitch to his game. While watching his tape, I saw him rounding out his routes more often than not. He does appear to know the full route tree, which is a positive, and it’s also the reason he’s able to do a lot of double-moves. Even with that, though, it’s not very often you see him gain tons of separation. Can’t seem to plant a foot and go inside, even on a slant route. Maneuverability is solid off the line of scrimmage, as he’s able to juke a lot of defenders, but does take some time to get into the route. All-in-all, route-running is another average part to his game, though I’ve seen some say this is one of his highlights.
Speed: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Watching him come off the line of scrimmage, Pettis has solid initial burst, but his long speed leaves something to be desired. He said that he can run a 4.37-second 40-yard dash, though I’d put him more in the low-to-mid 4.4-second range. Whatever the case, his speed isn’t a concern on the field, as he’s able to get some separation when running in a straight line with some defensive backs. His speed was another reason he was able to do a bunch of double-moves, because he doesn’t have the quick-twitch that some smaller wide receivers do.
Hands: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Easily the best part of his game, as he’s a natural when it comes to bringing in the football. This can be considered a big positive for a lot of NFL teams, as he plucks the ball out of the air like you see some of the top wide receivers in the game do. His hands weren’t even measured to be too much above average, either. This obviously shows solid motor skills and hand strength, should a team want to play him over the middle of the field. There will be drops that people overanalyze from his college tape (everyone drops passes), but his fundamentals are extremely solid.
Awareness: 3.5 out of 5 stars
One area where Pettis shined in this category is his knowledge to come back to the ball in order to help his quarterback. Too many times you’ll see college wide receivers wait for a ball to get to them, only to see a defender come in at the last second and either deflect it or intercept it. Pettis has the smarts to come back to the ball and create a shorter window for the defender. His sideline knowledge is solid, though his hands are so sure, it allows him to pay attention to where his feet are. His ball-tracking is solid, though nothing over the top spectacular.
After the Catch: 2.0 out of 5 stars
As mentioned earlier, you aren’t going to see him break many tackles. One thing I noted about his prowess after the catch is that he’ll sometimes go backwards for a yard or two if he feels it will allow him to create a bigger play. It’s something that works on kickoffs and punts, but rarely works as a wide receiver, unless you have truly elite speed like Tyreek Hill. It’s also why Devin Hester never worked out well as a wide receiver. While I’m not comparing him to Hester, it’s a knock to his game. His vision in the open-field is great, but getting there will be the key part.
Potential Landing Spot
Pettis isn’t someone I envision starting right away, so it’s difficult to project a landing spot for him. He’s going to add depth to a wide receiver chart, but I suspect he’ll go to a team that could use help on their special teams unit. That’s why the Panthers make plenty of sense for him. Not only can they use a return man, as they ranked dead-last in return yards last year, but they could also use some wide receiver depth, as they have a bunch of unknowns on the roster.
He’s a difficult one to compare, simply because we’re trying to stick to players who are relevant in today’s NFL. There are two players who come to mind when watching him, though neither are the perfect comparison. He reminds me of Will Fuller throughout his movements, though he’s got better hands than Fuller, but also has less speed. The other player who comes to mind is Robby Anderson, who makes the most of his smaller frame, working all over the field. He’s never going to be the focal point of an offense, but with some small refinements, he can become a solid complimentary receiver.
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Nick Chubb (RB – Georgia)
Royce Freeman (RB – Oregon)
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Kerryon Johnson (RB – Auburn)
John Kelly (RB – Tennessee)
Kalen Ballage (RB – Arizona State)
Calvin Ridley (WR – Alabama)
James Washington (WR – Oklahoma State)
Courtland Sutton (WR – Southern Methodist)
Michael Gallup (WR – Colorado State)
D.J. Moore (WR – Maryland)
Christian Kirk (WR – Texas A&M)
Anthony Miller (WR – Memphis)
Equanimeous St. Brown (WR – Notre Dame)
Daesean Hamilton (WR – Penn State)