Jahan Dotson, Penn State WR | NFL Draft Scouting Report

After looking at his scouting report, can Penn State WR Jahan Dotson become an early-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft this April?

The 2022 NFL Draft wide receiver class has seen plenty of movement over the past several months. Where does the scouting report of Penn State WR Jahan Dotson line up now? Dotson has long been considered one of the best receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft, but is he slipping with other prospects making headway? Here’s a look at Dotson’s profile and where he might be considered in late April.

Jahan Dotson NFL Draft Profile

  • Position: Wide Receiver
  • School: Penn State
  • Current Year: Senior
  • Height: 5’10 5/8″
  • Weight: 181 pounds
  • Wingspan: 74″
  • Length: 30 3/4″
  • Hand: 9 1/2″

Dotson’s Combine/pro day results

  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.43
  • Bench Press: 15
  • Broad Jump: 10’1″
  • Vertical Jump: 36″
  • Three-Cone: 7.21

Jahan Dotson Scouting Report

Once dubbed the WR1 in the 2022 NFL Draft class by ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Dotson has since receded on the hype chart. He’s still viewed as a pass catcher safely in the Day 2 discussion, but other emerging prospects like Christian Watson and Skyy Moore have generated more excitement in fringe-Round 1 talks.

With the NFL Draft fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to ask if that should be the case. Is Dotson settling into the range he should’ve been all along, or is he truly a potential first-round talent lurking beneath the pantheon of the class? To answer our questions on Dotson, we have to take a look at the tape.

Dotson’s athletic profile

In draft evaluation, you have different types of receivers — but three-level threats can appear in all kinds of body types. A three-level receiver, of course, is a player who can threaten defenses before the catch, at the catch point, and after the catch. Dotson might not be a dominant three-level threat, but he at least has traits conducive to success in all of those areas.

At 5’10 5/8″, 181 pounds, Dotson isn’t the most imposing receiver. However, he compensates for that with his unique brand of athleticism. The Nittany Lions WR has good long-strider speed in open space, and he also has a subtle explosiveness in his game. He’s not a super-energetic mover, but he can gain speed unexpectedly quickly. When Dotson has space for his quick, long strides, he can be tough to keep up with.

Going further, the Penn State product has excellent vertical athleticism. He can spring off the ground effortlessly, and his large, spider-like hands can snare off-target passes with ease. Dotson also moves well. He has the capacity to sink his hips and use twitch to generate displacement. Furthermore, his loose hips and lateral agility allow for solid run-after-catch ability.

Execution beyond the physical traits

Dotson has a strong athletic foundation, but his execution in tight spots is ultimately what endears his profile even more. Especially downfield and in the air, the Penn State WR brings a lot to the table.

He tracks the ball well with his eyes and can naturally coordinate his hands to follow. That excellent coordination helps him adjust his hands in a timely manner for deep passes, but it also enables him to adjust his stride lengths for positioning.

When the ball comes his way, Dotson has near-elite body control and contortion ability in the air. He’s supremely adaptable, and he can use his focus to haul in passes under contact. His frame is on the lighter side, but Dotson’s hands and focus enable him to supersede that trait.

Expanding on Dotson’s executional strengths, he shows promise as a route runner. The Penn State star knows how to attack defender leverage with his route breaks, and he can use his speed to stack defenders after gaining separation at the line. He can sink his hips abruptly while employing head fakes on double moves. He’s also aware of defenders’ blind spots, and he knows how to attack those spots downfield with throttle control.

Areas for improvement

There’s definite three-level potential for Dotson, but he’s not a perfect prospect. As mentioned earlier, the Penn State WR has a slight frame by NFL standards. His strong hands help compensate, but larger defenders can outmuscle Dotson, and his frame can inhibit his ability to work through contested situations in flashes.

While Dotson is a great athlete, he can play closer to his athletic maximum at times. He doesn’t always show elite stop-and-start ability out of his route breaks. He appears to have that kind of capacity, but he can be a little more crisp and sudden at the stem. The Penn State WR can also sink his hips more at his breaks, as being too upright can lessen his suddenness.

To summate, Dotson doesn’t always play to his capacity regarding short-range explosiveness, and he can indulge his traits more as a route runner. To that end, Dotson sometimes rounds his breaks and drifts into the middle of the field. He has the awareness to find open zones, but he’ll need to seek displacement at the NFL level more consistently.

Among other things, Dotson doesn’t have much contact balance after the catch with his slight frame. He’s also extremely inconsistent at sustaining blocks in the running game, although that’s more of a secondary trait for receivers. Moreover, his hand technique isn’t quite elite. While his hands are exceptional, he sometimes resorts to body catches and bobbles passes on occasion.

Dotson’s 2022 NFL Draft scouting report overview

When he’s at his best, Dotson is a pure playmaker. As a catcher, he has the vertical athleticism, body control, hands, and laser focus to make eye-popping plays down the field. And as a ball carrier, the Penn State WR is explosive, agile, and he can sink his hips effortlessly when evading defenders. He doesn’t always play to this maximum, but the potential is there. And his success as a punt returner only reaffirms that.

Dotson can still further refine the consistency of his route running, and his size will be a bit of a damper on his upside. Nevertheless, he has the dual-sided catching ability and creation ability to be an early-round pick. I wouldn’t consider him in Round 1. And even in early Round 2, with his slight frame, there would be some hesitation. But anywhere on Day 2, Dotson does have some appeal with his upside and relative reliability.

Could Dotson sneak into Round 1? Anything is possible, but he’s more likely a Day 2 pick. If he can reach his ceiling as a route runner, he could be a very productive NFL receiver with versatility between the boundary and the slot.

Jahan Dotson’s Player Profile

It was never a surprise that, eventually, Dotson was going to be a successful football player. It was just a matter of where. In the 2018 recruiting class, Dotson was a high four-star recruit, listed as the 139th-ranked player in the nation. He was a top-20 player at wide receiver — consistently one of the most talent-dense positions in football.

Dotson drew offers from schools like Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, and Ohio State. But being from Nazareth Senior High School in Pennsylvania, Dotson was compelled to stay in-state for his football career. He joined the Penn State Nittany Lions in the spring of 2018. From there, his growth began to take hold.

Dotson’s career at Penn State

Dotson hit the field as a true freshman in 2018, and immediately, he took on a role in the Penn State offense. The Big Ten represented a change of pace for the Penn State WR, but Dotson still saw playing time. In his first season, he logged 13 catches for 203 yards, earning a taste of what Power Five football was like.

In 2019, Dotson earned an increased role. He had a solid year, amassing 488 yards and 5 touchdowns on 27 catches. But his breakout season wouldn’t come until 2020. That year, Dotson became a bona fide playmaker. The Penn State WR caught 52 passes for 884 yards and 8 scores. He also had an impact on special teams, returning a punt for a touchdown.

Dotson could have declared for the 2021 NFL Draft. Instead, he chose to return to school for his senior season. That decision no doubt paid off. In 12 games during the 2021 campaign, the Penn State WR amassed 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns on 91 catches. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a result, and catapulted toward the 2022 NFL Draft with new momentum.

Dotson’s 2022 NFL Draft ascension

In a Penn State class that includes offensive tackle Rasheed Walker, edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie, linebacker Brandon Smith, cornerback Tariq Castro-Fields, and safety Jaquan Brisker, there’s a decent chance that Dotson could be the first off the board. That would be a substantial accomplishment for the Nittany Lions WR.

Because Dotson doesn’t have elite frame density, he may be taken off some teams’ boards. But it doesn’t take much tape viewing to know that Dotson can leap and snag passes with the best of them. His athleticism pops both laterally and vertically. On top of that, he has the natural instincts for catching that you look for in receivers — to a very high degree.

Dotson profiles as a high-floor player with a fairly high ceiling as well. Wherever he goes, he should be able to provide a steady impact and become a valuable, versatile catalyst for an offense.

Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report on Jahan Dotson

Positives: Outstanding pass catcher with a nice combination of athleticism and natural receiving skills. Terrific route runner who is smooth releasing off the line of scrimmage and quick in his all-around game. Intelligent and plays with balance as well as body control. Uses the sidelines well, displays outstanding focus, and finds ways to separate from opponents. Extends and exposes himself to the big hit, shows terrific concentration, and pulls the fastball from the air.

Displays quick, strong hands. Easily adjusts to errant throws and gets down to scoop up low passes. Comes back to the ball out of breaks, quickly turns upfield after the catch, and displays a burst of speed. Creative when the ball is in his hands as a receiver and as a punt returner and follows blocks everywhere on the field. Battles opponents to come away with the reception and plays big football.

Negatives: Lacks elite deep speed and isn’t a home-run threat. Will struggle against larger cornerbacks.

Analysis: Dotson may not pass the eyeball test, as he’s neither the biggest nor the fastest receiver, but he’s a polished prospect who gets the most from his ability and plays big-time football. He is a good fit in just about any system, and Dotson possesses the ability to be a starter on Sundays.

Ian Cummings is a Draft Analyst for Pro Football Network. You can find his writing here and follow him on Twitter: @IC_Draft.

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