3. Phillip Dorsett
Now in his fifth season as a pro, Phillip Dorsett is having a really nice year for the Patriots. He’s been a bit of a pleasant surprise for this team, as you could have made a compelling argument entering 2019 that Dorsett was the most-overlooked and under-hyped member of this New England offense.
He changed that narrative real fast in the team’s opening night win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching all four of the balls Brady threw his way for 95 yards and two touchdowns. In four of the six full games he’s played this season, Dorsett has been extremely clutch and reliable, catching 16 of 18 passes thrown his direction.
He’s also tied with Julian Edelman for the team lead in receiving touchdowns with four, and he ranks third behind Edelman and James White in terms of targets, receptions, and receiving yards among all active Patriots. If not for the two games he missed with a hamstring injury (Redskins and Giants), there’s a legitimate chance that he’d be even higher on the list… perhaps above White and much closer to Edelman’s totals.
Dorsett’s achievements this season are even more impressive when compared against the other four seasons he’s been in the league, two with the Colts and two with the Patriots. His touchdown total this year is already a career high and we’re only halfway through the season. With just five more receiving yards he’ll set a New England single-season record for himself, and he already has his third-highest receiving output ever in just eight games.
Assuming he stays healthy for the entire second half of the season, Dorsett projects to finish 2019 with 45 receptions for 614 yards and eight or nine touchdowns.
The scoring total is probably unattainable given how much Brady likes to spread the ball around to his weapons… plus Edelman seems to be the go-to guy in the red zone lately for touchdowns. Still, Dorsett easily could hit those receptions and receiving yardage totals, and if he does, he’ll set new career highs for himself in every major receiving category.
Now that Josh Gordon looks like he’s headed elsewhere after ending up on IR and presumably is soon to be released, the Patriots seem like they’re content to rely on Edelman, Dorsett, and Mohamed Sanu as their top-three options in the passing game. Edelman and Sanu are better pure route-runners than Dorsett, but Dorsett easily has the best downfield speed and big-play threat of the trio.
Those traits could loom large for this offense down the road, especially if they find themselves in shootouts with teams like the Ravens, Cowboys, Texans, or Chiefs.