Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
An ankle injury prevented Pettis from working out at the Combine and Washington’s Pro Day.
Cousin of former Rams WR Austin Pettis and son of 5-time Gold Glove winner Gary Pettis, Dante arrived at Washington as a 3-star recruit. He played sparingly on offense as a freshman but served as the primary punt returner, averaging 10.3 yards and scoring once on 28 attempts.
Pettis finished 3rd on the team in both catches and receiving yards as a sophomore. He took another 2 punt returns to the house while ranking 4th in the nation with 16.9 yards per attempt.
An explosive Washington passing game that ranked 1st in TDs and 24th in yards helped Pettis to a breakout campaign in 2016. He ranked 2nd on the squad in catches, yards and TDs — behind only eventual 1st-rounder John Ross. Pettis’ 15 scores were good for 7th in the country. He added another 2 punt return TDs.
Ross’ departure cleared the way for Pettis to take over as the top dog this past year. While he set a career high in catches, the rest of his numbers went south. Pettis did easily lead the team in catches, yards and TDs, though. He accounted for 26.3% of the catches, 26.3% of the yards and 36.8% of the TDs. Those marks rank 5th, 10th and 5th, respectively, among the 13 WRs we’ve studied so far.
Pettis also scored another 4 punt-return TDs, giving him the NCAA record with 9 career scores. He was named a consensus First Team All-American and All-Pac-12 First Team as a WR and return specialist.
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Games watched - Rutgers, Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, Utah
Pettis is at his best before the catch. He’s a crisp route runner, using sharp cuts and acceleration out of his breaks to create separation.
He also has the deep speed and ball-tracking ability to hit the big play.
Considering his special-teams prowess, I was surprised not to see Pettis do more damage after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, he averaged just 3.6 yards after the catch over the past 3 seasons. He shows some make-you-miss ability but isn’t a tackle-breaker.
Pettis also struggles in contested situations and hanging onto the ball through contact.
He at least has reliable hands in clean-catch situations. Pettis recorded a strong 4.7% drop rate last year and a career mark of 4.1%.
Pettis will appeal to teams looking for a big-play threat and return specialist. He has a shot to make immediate impacts in those facets.
But he’ll need to improve his play strength before he’s ready to become a key part of an NFL passing game. He could certainly stand to add 10 or so pounds to his frame.
Pettis was at his best at Washington as the #2 option behind John Ross. So it’s tough to see him emerging as a lead dog as a pro. He figures to top out as a boom-or-bust WR3 type for fantasy squads.