ASHBURN, Va. — The choice was a simple one: A younger Jahan Dotson preferred catching the ball much more than he loved pushups. His cousin would toss Dotson footballs at a neighborhood park, forcing him to make diving catches. A dropped ball equaled 10 pushups.
“I received uninterested in that actual fast,” stated Dotson, a first-round decide by the Washington Commanders within the 2022 NFL draft. “So, catching the ball is one thing that I’ll do.”
Even when it means hauling in a move like a rebound in basketball, or reaching up excessive to snag one with two palms, 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 is 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 strategy, however a few of these catches at Penn State revealed another excuse he stood out. He performed greater than his listed top of 5-foot-11.
“To not 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 receiver Chris Olave at No. 11 total, and Dotson, at No. 16, was the fifth of six wideouts picked within the first spherical. Although he’s the shortest of the six, his palms (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.
5 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 appropriate, 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. As a substitute, Dotson jumped excessive and twisted again to his left for the 22-yard catch.
“The ball was slightly over my head, so I needed to make an acrobatic catch and pluck it,” Dotson stated. “Interceptions are arduous to return by, so understanding I am taking one away from the protection and transferring the sticks is certainly cool.”
Mentioned Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz: “He catches the soccer as pure as anyone I have 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. One other excessive move resulted in one other twisting catch and a landing.
“It is my consideration to element and my focus,” Dotson stated. “When the ball is within the air, I am 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 attainable.”
Dotson nonetheless should show himself within the NFL. Whereas Washington felt he was some 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 total prospect and Scout’s Inc. ranked him No. 25).
However, in observe, he is proven the work along with his palms has paid off.
“He has palms like [former Indianapolis Colts receiver] Reggie Wayne,” stated former NFL receiver Santana Moss, who gives evaluation on the Commanders’ web site. “Reggie would catch a BB at midnight, it was that easy. That is how I see Jahan. The stuff he is doing may be very polished. … I credit score that to his catch radius and having mitts. Take a look at his palms, 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 appropriate 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 state of affairs 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 preferred that Dotson maintained the identical path on the route. That allowed Wentz to hit him on his exterior shoulder. Dotson additionally did not increase his arms till the final minute, stopping the defender from reacting quick sufficient.
“I am nonetheless engaged on that ability slightly bit as effectively,” McLaurin stated. “You must use little delicate issues like that to maintain [defenders] from getting their palms in on the ball. In order that was actually good to see from a younger man.”
Jahan Dotson pulls in a terrific 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 sphere, Dotson sprinted down the appropriate 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 recreation I’ve ever performed in,” Dotson stated. “It is arduous to get your footing down, your palms are freezing and it is arduous to catch the ball. These are all distractions; you simply need to hold the primary factor the primary factor.”
The principle factor, for Dotson, includes the small print and having a plan at receiver. It is why veteran Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller known as him a “professional ever since Day 1.”
Within the spring, Dotson confronted Fuller on consecutive days out of the identical formation and in opposition to the identical protection. He beat him to the surface on the primary day. On the second, Fuller anticipated one other exterior 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 huge,” Fuller stated. “That is a vet transfer.”
Jahan Dotson grabs a powerful one-handed catch and makes magic once more on the following 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. Because the defensive again, Shaun Wade, leaned backward Dotson, reaching excessive, grabbed the ball along 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 fairly 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 had 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 buddy KJ Hamler. However he additionally discovered from former teammate and tight finish Pat Freiermuth, a second-round decide by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.
“Pat does a terrific job of boxing individuals out and enjoying huge,” Dotson stated. “Watching him each day and the way he maneuvers and assaults the ball within the air … We’ve got the identical mindset when the ball is within the air, that it is ours. Individuals name it 50-50 balls, however we expect it is 100 to zero.”
Those that 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.”
Throughout Washington’s rookie minicamp in Could, receivers coach Drew Terrell pulled him apart and advised him he wanted to run quicker.
“He did not seem like he was making an attempt or working, however he’s. He is simply that easy,” Terrell stated. “He is not a man it’s important to recreation plan for — ‘how are we going to get this man the ball?’ He can exit and produce naturally. That is what he placed on his school tape.”