Grading the Jahan Dotson pick
Jahan Dotson is without question one of the best route-runners in the class. He’s up there with Chris Olave, John Metchie III and others in terms of pure route-running ability. More than just footwork, he’s a high IQ route-runner with excellent processing skills in terms of angles, attacking defensive back’s blind spots, understanding pace and speed, all of which allows him to attack defenders in a multitude of ways to create the maximum amount of separation possible on any given route.
In addition, Dotson is very good after the catch. Averaging 6.0 yards after the catch per reception, his vision with the ball in his hands not only shines in the open field within a structured offense, but also in the punt return game. He’s been productive throughout his collegiate career in open space, a huge bonus that can pay off in a big way for Washington.
Lastly, drops are not a concern when dissecting Jahan’s game. With only five drops on over 220 targets the last two seasons, Dotson can make the acrobatic one-handed catches or he can make the deep catches while showcasing his strong ball-tracking ability. In other words, the way Jahan wins in the NFL, the foundation comes in ways that translate well at the next level.
So, what gives? Why isn’t this an A+ pick?
This isn’t an A+ pick because it was still undoubtedly a reach inside the top 17 in the first round. Dotson had slight first-round consideration from teams like the Green Bay Packers (they never draft WR’s, by the way), but also teams like the Buffalo Bills as well.
So while Dotson might have had a suitor or two, the talent drop off from guys like Chris Olave and Jameson Williams to a guy like Dotson, a clear second-round talent, was significant enough to weigh your trade back options yet again or even pass on him for the time being. His floor is unquestioned, the talent is obvious, for what it’s worth. I’d be surprised if he was a “bust” for the Commanders.
With that said, Dotson’s size concerns lead you to believe that he’ll strictly become a slot wideout at the next level and his lack of play strength lead you to question how effective he could be outside of a free release. Also, he doesn’t possess “elite” traits or lateral athletic ability, at least not on tape and not according to his RAS score, either.
Dotson looks like he could potentially hit his ceiling early, and while that could be a reliable, steady slot option in the passing game, you wonder how valuable that will be. He beat press in college, but at the pro-level, will it translate? That’s a good question. It’s emphasized a bit more when you realize Washington is already paying a slot wideout significant money in Curtis Samuel.
To conclude, Jahan Dotson will likely be a solid player for the Commanders. Again, the talent is there and the skillset will translate well at the NFL level. There are question marks about his ceiling, average athletic traits, and ability, size, and strength concerns, among other less important things. Do I believe he can overcome these obstacles? I do, actually. Do I believe he’ll become Chris Godwin or Cooper Kupp in terms of productivity out of the slot? I do not.
What I do think, is that Jahan Dotson will be a solid slot receiver for the Commanders, can align at the “Z” for Washington, while replicating production similarly to 2019 Jarvis Landry, 2021 Tyler Boyd, and other high-level complimentary slot/”Z” options in the NFL. That’s clearly valuable, but there are levels to impact, production, and value at the wide receiver position that transcend what I believe Dotson can offer, even more so when you take into consideration that he was picked within the top 17 of his class.