Trading Phillip Dorsett for Jacoby Brissett turned out to be a very bad decision for the New England Patriots. He had a rather disappointing first season, catching only 12 passes despite a multitude of injuries plaguing the rest of the team’s receivers.
The formerly harmless Dorsett trade became a major loss for the Patriots, considering the fact that Brissett would have been very useful now without an heir apparent to Tom Brady waiting in the wings.
That puts a lot of pressure on Dorsett in training camp. He needs to not only make the roster to justify the trade, but actually produce on the field for the Patriots.
And in order to find that production, the Patriots have experimented with Dorsett in a different role. He has typically been typecast as an outside deep threat due to his immense speed, but the Patriots have decided to try him for a slot during camp.
Considering his height of 5’10”, Dorsett has the physical profile of a slot receiver. The Patriots emphasize the slot more than other teams, so the idea of unleashing his speed on horizontal routes rather than vertical ones fits their playing style.
With Danny Amendola gone and Julian Edelman missing the first four games of the season, there is a need in the slot, even though Jordan Matthews is joining the team in free agency.
It remains to be seen if this experiment works, but giving it a shot makes perfect sense. Dorsett agrees as well, stating that it gives him a chance to evolve into a more complete receiver.
“Just trying to open up the tool bag, just trying to be an every-down receiver,” Dorsett said. “Not really just being a deep threat. A lot of coaches, they won’t let you do the other stuff because you’re fast. They just want you to run vertical.”
Dorsett has never been a refined route-runner, which is an absolute requirement in the slot, but as he notes, he has never been asked to be one. He has been the fastest player on every team he has ever played on, and that speed can be deployed in a variety of ways.
Phillip Dorsett still has plenty of competition. Also, the Patriots have already declined Dorsett’s fifth-year option, so if he wants to stay, he is going to have to prove that he deserves to.