When it comes to the 2019 draft class the receiver group stands out. The narrative surrounding the receiver class as a whole is that, “There isn’t a clear cut number one guy,” which honestly is a positive thing for the 49ers. Where there isn’t a clear wide receiver one, there is plenty of depth in the receiver class— another positive for the 49ers.
Receiver is a clear position of need for the 49ers, but edge, defensive back and offensive line are all needs at premier positions which pushes receiver down on their big board. If there was ever a class to take a receiver late it’s 2019.
After spending some time watching Wake Forest’s receiver Greg Dortch it’s hard to ignore his skillset that could fit the 49ers.
Watching Dortch, one thing that sticks out is his creativity. He continually lures defenders in with his route running or footwork then breaks away with head fakes and unique body movement. He’s not a burner, but uses his speed to separate when he needs to. There’s a lot of subtle and trickery Dortch’s game. When watching Dortch the word crafty seems to run through my mind time and time again.
Creativity and crafty are words I thought of when watching Dante Pettis at the college level, and we know how much Shanahan valued those things when selecting Pettis in the second round.
Dortch primarily uses his creativity when it comes to his footwork off the line. Even though Dortch is small in size, he releases off the line with ease time and time again against defenders bigger than him. Dortch’s best skill is probably his release off the line of scrimmage ability, which is trait you don’t often see in young prospects. His refined release skills could go along way in Shanahan’s offense.
A Nose For The Endzone
For his size, (which is something we’ll get to later) Dortch has a real knack when it comes to finding the endzone. He scored in 17 touchdowns in two seasons at Wake Forest. He racked up nine touchdowns as a freshman in 2017 in only eight games.
It’s worth mentioning Dortch was a production machine for the Deac’s over his career. He had seven games with over 110 yards receiving. Twice in his career he had games with four touchdown receptions. Unlike guys like Doss and Isabella, Dortch did this against power-5 competition in the ACC.
The 49ers badly need help when it comes to receivers finding the endzone, Pettis lead the team in 2018 with only five touchdowns.
The biggest issue with Dortch is his size, it’s the reason he could fall to day three in the draft. He stands at 5’9 and only 170 lbs. He’s small, and doesn’t have blazing speed, so there is some cause for concern. He needs to bulk up a bit to help fight injuries— something he’s dealt with in his career.
Dortch suffered a punctured intestine at Wake Forest after falling on a pylon while scoring a touchdown versus Louisville in 2017. Dortch recovered and bounced back nicely for a big 2018, but his injury history is something to monitor due to his size.
Dortch needs to add some muscle, because 50/50 balls he rarely wins. Dortch has really nice hands as a receiver but can get bullied by bigger defenders which is a problem he could run into at the next level.
The positive in all this is Dortch can still build size. NFL strength and conditioning programs can do wonders for young prospects. Plus, the NFL is trending toward featuring smaller receivers like Tyler Lockett, Brandon Cooks and Tyreek Hill. Each of these players are known as dynamic playmakers regardless of size.
Outside of all the things I already mentioned about Dortch, another thing that is intriguing is his youth. Dortch is only 20 years old and one of the youngest prospects in the entire draft pool. Dortch could continue to develop with the right coaching. The 49ers new coach, and former All-Pro Wes Welker could mold Dortch with his exclusive experience as a slot receiver.