Heading into this offseason, if there was one type of player that was missing from the Las Vegas Raiders’ receiving corps, it was a pure deep threat out wide. Even after signing Jakobi Meyers early in free agency, the Raiders lacked a true speed demon out wide who can consistently take the top off a defense.
That’s why Las Vegas also added wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in free agency and then drafted Tre Tucker in the third round a little more than a month later. So now the question arises of who is the bigger deep threat between the two players?
For starters, let’s compare both players’ testing numbers courtesy of the chart below from RAS.football. Now, the thing to keep in mind about the numbers below is that Dorsett’s are from eight years ago, but this will at least give us a baseline to work off of before diving into the stats.
Dorsett has the advantage when it comes to long speed, edging out Tucker by a few hundredths of a second. But what’s interesting is that the rookie had faster 10- and 20-yard split times. That means he can accelerate off the line of scrimmage and eat up a defensive back’s cushion a little faster, which will put more pressure on defenders when he’s running deep routes.
Moving onto the statistics, provided by Pro Football Focus, one interesting finding is that while both players had similar production on deep routes last year, they did it between different landmarks.
Dorsett’s four catches, 106 yards and one touchdown on deep routes all came on the offense’s left and outside the numbers. Whereas Tucker's four grabs, 139 yards and one score came in the middle of the field or between the numbers. That can be chalked up to how they were used differently in their respective offenses as Dorsett lined up out wide 81.0 percent of the time, and Tucker was in the slot on 96.5 percent of his reps.
This is also where the veteran might have an advantage over the rookie. Especially in the NFL, receivers face more press coverage on the outside than they do in the slot. So, having a speed demon who can win at the line of scrimmage is a valuable asset, and Tucker hasn’t proven he can win out wide. It’s a lot easier to transition from outside to inside than inside to out, meaning Dorsett could have just as much success as a deep threat from the slot.
Diving a little deeper into those numbers, it’s interesting to see that despite Tucker having more yards and yards per catch on deep routes, Dorsett has a slightly higher average depth of target (ADOT); 27.6 to 26.5.
The difference is that Tucker is a little better at creating yards after the catch with 17 YAC on his deep grabs compared to Dorsett, who just had 1 YAC. That trend holds true throughout all areas of the field as Tucker averaged 6.3 YAC per reception as a whole last season, while Dorsett had just 2.9. So the rookie is a little more dynamic with the ball in his hands.
While comparing their numbers from last season gives us a good head-to-head comparison, it doesn’t account for the varying levels of play. So, let’s pivot to comparing them against their peers.
Neither player was terribly efficient on deep routes last season as Tucker averaged 13.9 yards per target while Dorsett came in at 13.25. However, Dorsett at least ranked in the top half of qualifying NFL receivers (46th out of 98) while Tucker was 19th out of 34 qualifying wideouts in the AAC.
So, to answer the question posed in the title, Dorsett appears to be the bigger deep threat of the two heading into training camp. That being said, they are pretty even which should make for a fun battle to watch in August.