Penn State Pro Day: Jahan Dotson proving worth to teams on and off the field

    Wide receiver Jahan Dotson, the Nittany Lions' highest-rated prospect, put on a show for teams and media members during Penn State's Pro Day.

    Penn State Pro Day: Jahan Dotson proving worth to teams on and off the field

    Wide receiver Jahan Dotson put on a show for teams and media members during Penn State’s Pro Day. The 5-foot-10 receiver didn’t run the 40-yard dash but went through drills with long-time quarterback Sean Clifford. He is the highest-rated Nittany Lion on Tony Pauline’s Big Board and his 32nd-ranked player overall. But how he performed off the field on Thursday may have as much bearing on his NFL Draft stock as his on-field performance.

    Jahan Dotson’s impressive Penn State Pro Day performance

    As Dotson took questions from media members after working out at Penn State‘s Pro Day, a few things were clear. First, the wide receiver’s bright, light brown eyes lit up in Penn State’s Holuba Hall. Second, the receiver is either highly trained in media relations, or he is naturally commanding of a room. Lastly, Dotson exudes a confidence in his game while delivering in an incredibly humble manner. That is a skill that receivers and defensive backs can lack at times.

    Improvement was the theme in Dotson’s media scrums

    The electric receiver bounced around from the Big Ten Network and NFL Network before talking with the rest of the media. But the one theme that carried over in his interviews was the desire to display improvement from the NFL Combine to Penn State’s Pro Day.

    Dotson said at each spot that he wanted to show scouts he was better than he was at the Combine. Like most athletes, Dotson spoke about taking things day by day and focusing on his craft. When asked whether he reads mock drafts, Dotson said he avoids them by heading to the training facility and getting work in. However, his father makes sure to call and tell him about the latest mock draft he’d seen.

    He continued to hammer home the day-by-day approach by discussing what has stuck out to him about conversations with teams. He spoke with a Ravens’ coach during the pro day, and the coach told him to continue to perfect his craft and not look too far into the future.

    If Dotson succeeds on the field in his NFL career, he’ll swiftly become a fan favorite for his engagement off the field. Dotson was thoughtful and confident as media members peppered questions at him. He even threw some lighthearted jabs at Penn State media that have covered him for years now.

    On-field performance

    Much of the evaluation process can be done by watching film and gathering athletic testing data, but there is still value in being on the ground for workouts. Luckily, Dotson wasn’t the only receiver working out on Thursday. Benjamin Wilson ran routes with the Penn State standout.

    The ball hit each receiver’s hands differently. There was far less noise when the ball hit Dotson’s hands. And it disappeared as soon as it hit them. It’s similar to when a pitcher hits the back of the mitt a bit closer to the palm and the mitt cracks.

    Dotson said to the media that he feels he has the best hands in the class, and his pro day workout certainly showed that part of the game comes easy for him. This is even more impressive because Dotson caught passes from Clifford while Wilson caught passes from former Maryland QB Danny O’Brien. Clifford had noticeably more velocity on his passes, making the clack of sound compared to Wilson all the more impressive.

    Dotson also showed his innate ability to track deep passes through the air. Clifford was on point with his accuracy, and Dotson showed how effortlessly he tracked passes. He looked like Jim Edmonds in center field elevating on the wall to steal a home run. He also showed great spatial awareness on the sideline.

    Where might Dotson go in the draft?

    There were a few big names to make an appearance around the league. But Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy made the trip up to Penn State for what he said was “the first time in decades.” Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was also in attendance, but with a need at wide receiver opened up by the Amari Cooper trade, Dotson could be on the Cowboys’ radar.

    Dotson said his versatility and hands were his best traits. The Cowboys use CeeDee Lamb in the slot quite a bit but could look to transition him to the outside in 2022. Dotson believes he can play anywhere on the field, which would allow the Cowboys to mix and match the two while Michael Gallup runs the X position. Dallas picks 24th in the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s unlikely the Penn State receiver makes it to 56.

    Dotson spent significant time around former Patriots receiver and current receiver’s coach Troy Brown before he met with media. Brown ran the drills for him and Wilson, and the two were inseparable afterward. He also said he had a meeting with Brown after his time with media was over. There’s no doubt that New England needs the position.

    The Nittany Lions receiver has outstanding tape, ran a 4.43, and is as electric to interview as he was on the field for Penn State the past few seasons. It’s tough to imagine him having to wait too long into Round 2 before he hears his name called. And that’s only if he lasts past Thursday.

    Dalton Miller is Pro Football Network’s Lead NFL Analyst. You can read all of Dalton’s work here and follow him on Twitter: @daltonbmiller.

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