ASHBURN, Va. — The resolution was a straightforward one: A younger Jahan Dotson favored catching the ball much more than he loved pushups. His cousin would toss Dotson footballs at an area park, forcing him to make diving catches. A dropped ball equaled 10 pushups.
“I received bored with that actual fast,” stated Dotson, a first-round choose by the Washington Commanders within the 2022 NFL draft. “So, catching the ball is one thing that I’ll do.”
Even if it means hauling in a move like a rebound in basketball, or reaching up excessive to snag one with two arms, or extending far to the within for a throw. All of which the rookie receiver has proven in coaching camp and through a stellar school profession at Penn State.
It’s why Dotson wasn’t simply impressed whereas watching and discussing a few of his school highlights within the spring at Washington’s observe facility. The Commanders liked Dotson for a lot of causes, together with savvy route working and a mature method, however a few of these catches at Penn State revealed one more reason he stood out. He performed greater than his listed top of 5-foot-11.
“Not to sound cocky, however I do it so usually and I observe that on a regular basis since you by no means know when it comes up,” Dotson stated.
The New Orleans Saints traded up with Washington to pick out receiver Chris Olave at No. 11 general, and Dotson, at No. 16, was the fifth of six wideouts picked within the first spherical. Though he’s the shortest of the six, his arms (9.5 inches) are greater than two of the receivers chosen above him and his 36-inch vertical leap was matched solely by Garrett Wilson (No. 10, New York Jets) amongst first-round receivers on the scouting mix — measurements that assist clarify why Dotson performs greater than his measurement.
Five performs from his Penn State profession assist clarify why the Commanders are enthusiastic about him.
Sept. 18 vs. Auburn, first-and-10 from the Penn State 23: Dotson, aligned contained in the numbers to the precise, ran a deep crosser to interrupt free 20 yards downfield. A security eight yards behind him ready to seize an interception on a move that appeared too excessive. Instead, Dotson jumped excessive and twisted again to his left for the 22-yard catch.
“The ball was a little bit over my head, so I needed to make an acrobatic catch and pluck it,” Dotson stated. “Interceptions are exhausting to return by, so figuring out I’m taking one away from the protection and transferring the sticks is unquestionably cool.”
Said Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz: “He catches the soccer as pure as anyone I’ve been round.”
Jahan Dotson makes catch for 8-yard landing
Oct. 2 vs. Indiana, second-and-goal from the 8: Dotson lined up on the numbers and offered a crossing route, solely to show as much as the again of the tip zone. Another excessive move resulted in one other twisting catch and a landing.
“It’s my consideration to element and my focus,” Dotson stated. “When the ball is within the air, I’m absolutely locked in on the ball and nothing else. I get tunnel imaginative and prescient and really feel I can come down with these performs. I like catching the ball. I hold a soccer with me wherever. I get on the Jugs machine as a lot as potential.”
Dotson nonetheless should show himself within the NFL. While Washington felt he was one of the pro-ready gamers within the draft, others questioned if the Commanders picked him too excessive (ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Dotson ranked because the No. 22 general prospect and Scout’s Inc. ranked him No. 25).
But, in observe, he is proven the work together with his arms has paid off.
“He has arms like [former Indianapolis Colts receiver] Reggie Wayne,” stated former NFL receiver Santana Moss, who supplies evaluation on the Commanders’ web site. “Reggie would catch a BB at midnight, it was that easy. That’s how I see Jahan. The stuff he is doing may be very polished. … I credit score that to his catch radius and having mitts. Look at his arms, it is like a suction cup. Carson is on the market slinging the ball, however you do not hear it hit [Dotson’s] mitts.”
Sean Clifford heaves the ball downfield, and Jahan Dotson outjumps three Illinois defenders to haul it in.
Oct. 23 vs. Illinois, first-and-10 from the Penn State 22: On a move down the precise aspect for Dotson, three defenders converged. One reached up for the ball, however Dotson jumped as he ran and stole it. After he and Jartavius Martin landed, they stared at each other, and Dotson shook his head.
“He was like, ‘I assumed I had that one’ and I used to be like, ‘No, sir,'” Dotson stated.
Does he perceive how irritating that scenario is for a defender?
“I do not care to be trustworthy,” he stated.
In Washington’s first week of coaching camp, Dotson caught a 40-yard contested move over the shoulder from Wentz. It impressed fellow receiver Terry McLaurin, who favored that Dotson maintained the identical path on the route. That allowed Wentz to hit him on his outdoors shoulder. Dotson additionally did not increase his arms till the final minute, stopping the defender from reacting quick sufficient.
“I’m nonetheless engaged on that ability a little bit bit as nicely,” McLaurin stated. “You have to make use of little refined issues like that to maintain [defenders] from getting their arms in on the ball. So that was actually good to see from a younger man.”
Jahan Dotson pulls in a fantastic catch and retains himself in-bounds lengthy sufficient to get Penn State a landing.
Nov. 27 vs. Michigan State, first-and-10 from the Spartans’ 27: With snow overlaying the sector, Dotson sprinted down the precise sideline, making a leaping catch a foot from the boundary. As he catches the ball simply contained in the 3-yard line, he begins to fall out of bounds, however stretches the ball over the pylon for the rating.
“That was the craziest climate sport I’ve ever performed in,” Dotson stated. “It’s exhausting to get your footing down, your arms are freezing and it is exhausting to catch the ball. Those are all distractions; you simply must hold the principle factor the principle factor.”
The predominant factor, for Dotson, includes the small print and having a plan at receiver. It’s why veteran Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller referred to as him a “professional ever since Day 1.”
In the spring, Dotson confronted Fuller on consecutive days out of the identical formation and towards the identical protection. He beat him to the skin on the primary day. On the second, Fuller anticipated one other outdoors minimize. Dotson knew it, so he broke inside for a wide-open seize.
“To get the identical look and have a counter off it, that is large,” Fuller stated. “That’s a vet transfer.”
Jahan Dotson grabs a formidable one-handed catch and makes magic once more on the subsequent play for a Penn State landing.
Oct. 31, 2020, first-and-10, Ohio State 20-yard line: Dotson was jammed on the line, however the move was lofted to him on the 10-yard line. As the defensive again, Shaun Wade, leaned backward Dotson, reaching excessive, grabbed the ball together with his outstretched proper hand and by no means stumbled as he bumped into the tip zone.
“The play earlier than, I had a go route, and I made a reasonably cool catch for about 40 yards,” Dotson stated. “I used to be lifeless drained and making an attempt to return out of the sport to get water, however we have been going hurry-up. I received a horrible launch and the DB jammed me to the sideline, however I fought on the finish and gave my quarterback an opportunity.”
Dotson educated with NFL receivers this offseason, together with Chris Godwin and Jarvis Landry, and his shut good friend KJ Hamler. But he additionally discovered from former teammate and tight finish Pat Freiermuth, a second-round choose by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.
“Pat does a fantastic job of boxing folks out and enjoying large,” Dotson stated. “Watching him day by day and the way he maneuvers and assaults the ball within the air … We have the identical mindset when the ball is within the air, that it is ours. People name it 50-50 balls, however we expect it is 100 to zero.”
Those who know Dotson nod their head in settlement.
“In that 2020 season, he had some drops early on, whether or not it was in camp or no matter,” stated Penn State receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield, a former school wideout. “He simply regularly continued to enhance to a ‘wow’ issue. ‘Oh, he caught that.’ That goes to his competitiveness.”
During Washington’s rookie minicamp in May, receivers coach Drew Terrell pulled him apart and advised him he wanted to run quicker.
“He did not appear like he was making an attempt or working, however he’s. He’s simply that easy,” Terrell stated. “He’s not a man you need to sport plan for — ‘how are we going to get this man the ball?’ He can exit and produce naturally. That’s what he placed on his school tape.”