There’s been no shortage of eye-popping plays from Penn State WR and 2022 NFL Draft prospect Jahan Dotson. However, does Dotson’s scouting report hold up as well as his timeless moments? Here’s a look at Dotson, one of the receivers in the mix near the top of the 2022 NFL Draft class.
Jahan Dotson NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Penn State
- Current Year: Senior
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 184 pounds
Jahan Dotson Scouting Report
Who says wide receivers need upper-echelon quarterback play to produce? Perhaps that isn’t fair to Sean Clifford, who’s at least been a decent signal-caller in his time at Penn State. But overall, the passing attack for the Nittany Lions hasn’t been entirely consistent over the past three years. One player who has, though? Dotson.
For his career at Penn State, Dotson recently passed the 2,000-yard mark. Through tumult and uncertainty, Dotson has been one of the steady constants for James Franklin’s squad. What enables Dotson to produce through adversity, and is his skill set translatable to the next level? Let’s take a closer look.
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 5’11”, 184 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 great 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 naturally coordinates 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.
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 exceptional 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.
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’m not sure the first round is realistic, but if he can have a strong finish to the 2021 season, it’s in the realm of possibility.
More likely, however, is that Dotson is a Day 2 pick. If he can reach his ceiling as a route runner, he could be a productive NFL receiver for a long time.
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. So far, that decision has paid off. In eight games — one less than last season — Dotson already has 60 catches for 690 yards and 6 TDs (and another score on the ground). He’s solidified his name as an early-round option at receiver.
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 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, his stock may ultimately depend on his athletic testing. But it doesn’t take much tape viewing to know that Dotson can leap 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.