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A Look at Greg Dortch Jets UDFA WR Wake Forest

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A diminutive receiver with a big heart

NCAA Football: Clemson at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Dortch 5’ 7 1/8” 173 lbs WR Wake Forest #3 & #89

Greg Dortch is a small football player but a small football player who loves the game and has dreamed of playing in the NFL ever since (in his words) he was two years old.He was a redshirt sophomore who declared for the Draft. He was invited to the Combine but could not compete because of a wrist injury.

He described his injury in an interview; “I suffered the injury in 2016. It was a right scaphoid injury in my wrist — one of the tiniest bones in the wrist. It took some time to heal. I played with it, broke it in 2017 and nobody knew. I played with it last season and nobody still knew. I got surgery once I declared. We kept it low key.”

Still the Combine was a eye opening experience, and it upset him he could not compete against the other players. “It was a great journey. I had a lot of fun down there, and had been there before. Not to the combine, of course, but to Indy. It was great to be around all those guys. There were Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray. I’m a little kid from Wake Forest. To be around those guys from Oklahoma and Alabama and see what they got, what type of player they are and how hard they work. You just kind of take little bits from everyone you see. You see what makes them so successful. It was a humbling experience, not being able to do anything.”

Dortch may be small in stature, but he is big play threat on the field, not just a nickel & dime slot guy. On this play Wake is playing dual slot players to the right. One is running short. The other is running a post pattern.

It is kind of ironic that the taller receiver (TE) ran the shallow cross, and the 5’ 7” guy ran the deep post. Dortch has a quick first step and is able to get up to full speed in just a few steps. It will be imperative that he plays from the slot because he lacks strength and can get muscled by CBs if they can get their hands on him.

When he gets a free release he can makes things happen. He is fast, quick, agile and has superior elusiveness which he uses well in the open field. Here he just runs by everyone on his way to the end zone. Here it is from another view.

He does a nice job here to gain an advantage on the CB. First he comes off very hard and eats up the cushion between himself and the CB. The CB is in full pedal so Dortch slows slightly, takes one step towards the corner (feigning like he is going to try and cross his face). This makes the CB stop his feet for a split second, and that is all the time Dortch needs as he turns on the turbo and blows right by him.

Of course a lot of his effectiveness will be used closer to the line of scrimmage in a quick passing game. A young QB needs receivers who can get open and get open quick. In this play against FSU his pre-snap read is zone coverage, and all he does is cross the line and sit down immediately. He had 10 receptions in this game for 110 yards.

This play shows some of the quickness, elusiveness, and agility Dortch has, but it also shows his fearlessness to travel anywhere on the field to make a catch. The next play is again a quick throw down near the goal line. Dortch is running a variation of a stick route from the slot. The QB gets immediate pressure and is late with the throw.

The idea here is to have a bunch set with the defense playing man coverage near the goal line. The outside receiver has a job to get vertical, and you can see he really never turns around to look for the ball because his job is to clear the outside zone.

From another view you can see the play clearer. As the outside receiver pushes up field it leaves Dortch all alone with his CB which is a mismatch.

Dortch slows to give the outside receiver time to clear the zone. His stick route is a little slow and may be why he went undrafted. He can run this route much better and has done so, but he suffered injuries in 2017 and a ankle sprain in 2018. This play would be much quicker and faster if he was totally healthy.

Here is a play back in 2017 before he injured his ankle. Here you can see the explosiveness he possesses. This is against Louisville. He runs by the defense and barely gets touched. Louisville usually has a fast defense. They don’t tackle well, but they are fast. Dortch makes them all look slow. (Yes that is him, he wore #89 in 2017).

This is just a simple bubble screen, but players take bad angles because the don’t realize how fast he is. He ran a 4.49/40 at his Pro day without ever practicing for it (coming off surgery), so basically we don’t really know how fast he truly is. Besides as Dortch put it, “I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare, because I’ve been going through a lot of stuff with it. I was just grateful to be here and luckily had a good time.”

This is a little slip screen that Dortch takes to the house. This is his 4th TD of the day but you see at the end he has something wrong with his health. The kid is tough and gutted his way through the pain.

He takes the pass on the move, gets a few blocks, makes a safety miss in the hole (I told you they are bad tacklers), and outruns everyone to the end zone. Dortch had 10 receptions, 167 yards and 4 TDs in this game.

This is actually the play he got hurt, which was much earlier in the game. You see him land on the cheap pylon. He punctured his small intestine on this play and just continued in the game catching two more touchdowns. After the game (much later) he was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.

This is a little flat pass. You can see when Dortch plants his foot to launch himself into the end zone the safety his him which help propel him into the pylon. Again he kept playing, but he ended up missing the last 5 games of the year. He played in 8 games and had 53 receptions, 9 TDs, and over 13 12 yard per reception primarily from the slot in 2017.

On this next GIF it’s later in the same game, and Dortch is outside still in a slot position with a defender 10 yards off the ball. This is like stealing even with Dortch in a diminished capacity. You don’t see the same explosion you saw earlier because he had internal injuries, but it was enough against that defense.

He came back from his surgery the next year and put up 89 receptions for over 1,000 yards. Those were both the second most totals for each in Wake Forest history. That is all well and good, but a player on the bubble must play special teams.

This is where Dortch is very special. He received All-America honors this season from the Football Writers Association of America (first-team punt returner), Sports Illustrated (first-team return specialist), Pro Football Focus (first-team punt returner) and The Associated Press (second-team all-purpose player). Here he is being special.

There was a flag on this play, but it was against the punt team. Just to prove it was no fluke he returned another punt for a TD later in the same game. He is more elusive on the second TD, but the speed is still there.

He wanted to compete at the Combine. He almost did but was advised against it. “I’m a big competitor, so you’re in Indy with the top prospects in the nation, and you just want to showcase your abilities. You’ll never get another chance again in front of every NFL coach in your life,” Dortch said. “It definitely took something out of me. I had a long talk with my agent, he just told me to be patient and wait for this day. I did what I had to do, and now I just have to wait.”

Dortch has 81 returns of punts and kickoffs, and since the Jets don’t currently have a return specialist as of yet I think Dortch will get first shot. He also said as much in another interview, “The NFL is looking for guys that can play multiple positions. I’m a punt returner, kick returner and wide receiver,” Dortch said. “I’m an explosive play-maker when I get the ball in my hands. I’m exciting to watch, so teams are looking for that.”

Like I said before, Dortch is not a typical slot receiver. He will run a route anywhere on the field and from a myriad of formations. Here he is in a another bunch setup where each receiver crosses another receivers path.

He basically runs by the man covering him, and once he crossed his face there was little the DB could do except catch up to him. He couldn’t, though. Dortch is a player who likes practice and everything about the game. He also has a nose for the end zone.

Here he is in the slot and he being double teamed because he was playing against Louisville who he had 4 TDs against the year before. You see he is running a seam route, not something you see many slot receivers do. He is not going to be doing this much in the NFL, but at least he gets to show his route versatility.

The QB was a little hasty on this play. He should have read the fact that Dortch had his men beat. He needed to take a step back and loft a throw down the middle for an easy score. As it was, Dortch made a nice one handed grab. The double teams worked in keeping Dortch out of the end zone (with a little help from the QB). Dortch only had 8 receptions for 135 yards in the game.

It was perplexing to me why he would come out early for the Draft; he is still only 20 years old. But everyone has their reasons. Dortch said, “It was a long process. A lot of long nights talking to my parents. I felt like it was the best decision for me, no regrets. My size was a question, but I’m not going to grow overnight. I’m not going to become 6-foot-2 if I’d come back and played. I’m a two-time All American here. There was really not much more I could do here, but to get my degree. I’m going to come back to school once I get into the NFL and I’m going to get my degree. I just think it was the best decision for me to leave.”

Dortch had a decent pro day, but when you are 5’ 7 1/8” you need better than decent. Scouts thought he looked slower than his film and came away unimpressed. Given the fact that Dortch was coming off surgery and hadn’t practiced at all for the pro day you could see why he may look sluggish. It was also said that he was poor at contested balls because he lacked strength. Now did the scouts take into consideration that he played with a broken bone in his wrist for two years? I don’t know, but since Dortch kept it quiet they probably didn’t know.

In the final analysis Dortch is a gamer, a guy who loves to play and is a huge competitor. He played two years with a broken bone in his wrist and half a game (that he dominated) with internal injuries that required emergency surgery. He was an All-American return man, and the Jets seem to need on of those guys now.

Also Coach Gase is said to like using two slot receivers on passing downs a lot during games. It is an offensive scheme that I also agree with; especially with a young QB. To have two quick players who can get open immediately is a gift for a learning QB. Add to the fact that most teams scramble to find an effective slot corner, and few teams if any have two capable slot defenders. Once the slot receiver become a problem, teams may have to drop a safety down which will open up more space for a intermediate or deep route.

Dortch averaged almost 8 receptions and 90 yards a game for his career so he is used to a heavy workload. Also remember that Dortch is only 20 years old (he turns 21 later this month) so he is far from a finished product as a player.

Of course training camp will be the final determination on how Dortch fits in the NFL, but I would give him a better than 50% chance of making the team. This was a quality signing as a UDFA and could be a heavily used player if things work out well.

What do you think?