The New York Giants have a need at wide receiver. It isn’t glaring, but with Brandon Marshall and Dwyane Harris potential cap casualties, they might not have much behind Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard.
They also urgently need to upgrade their special teams, and have been turning over every rock they can to find someone who can be at all dynamic as a returner.
Enter Washington’s Dante Pettis, an underrated receiver and one of the best return men in the country.
- Crisp route runner. Runs a varied route tree and can use his routes to get separation in shallow (slants, hitches, comebacks) or deep (post, corner, double-moves) passes.
- Impressive body control. Contorts his body and extends his arms to increase his catch radius and play bigger than listed.
- Reliable “hands” catcher.
- Dynamic punt returner. Owns the NCAA record for punt return touchdowns (9) and averaged 20.4 yards per punt return in his senior year (14.2 for his career).
- Willing blocker who routinely and unflinchingly does the dirty work for his teammates.
- Doesn’t have spectacular physical attributes. Only average (at best) size, and long speed may be a question.
- Only two years of good receiving production at Washington (junior and senior years), and an ankle injury slowed him in his senior season. Only two touchdown receptions in his freshman and sophomore seasons.
What They’re Saying
“There is a small faction in the scouting community that believes receiver/return specialist Dante Pettis could slide into the draft’s initial 42 selections. Pettis is in the middle of a tremendous campaign and recently set the NCAA career record for punt return touchdowns with his ninth against Oregon on Saturday.
While Draft Analyst has upgraded Pettis to a third-round choice, we feel he’ll need to run exceedingly fast (low 4.3s) at the combine for any chance of cracking the top half of Round 2.”
Dante Pettis probably isn’t going to be sitting atop any list of potential “best receiver in the draft”, but he has intriguing potential at the next level.
As a receiver he is quick, runs good routes, is a reliable “hands” catcher, and a willing blocker on running or screen plays. That alone is enough to get him on the field and a producing, but as a physical specimen, he doesn’t leap off the screen, and that is a knock in the eyes of the NFL.
However, his incredible upside as a returner, however, is going to boost his draft stock. Being able to shrink the field before the offense even steps on it is a valuable talent. Being able to score on special teams is gold in the NFL, and Pettis is the best in NCAA history at it.
Not much is made of special teams unless they happen to be hurting the team as a whole, and the special teams coordinator is (generally) blamed. But the value of having good special teamers shouldn’t be discounted, and Pettis has a very valuable skill there.
The Giants will likely be in need of a replacement for Dwayne Harris, both as a fourth receiver and as a special teams ace, and Pettis is definitely a tempting option.