Jahan Dotson Deserves Praise, and Then Some
My plan was to put out part two of the Commanders draft targets next, but I watched Jahan Dotson highlights last night, and the kid deserves some serious praise.
Obviously, throughout the season we all learned why Ron and Co. picked Dotson at 16 in the draft. Dotson wowed with his catch radius as early as week one with an acrobatic catch to take the lead against the Jags with about a minute and a half left, but the reports coming out of training camp excited the fan base prior to the week one matchup. I remember reading Tweets from all the Commanders best reporters (shoutout Finlay, Keim, Hailey, and Tischler) about how Dotson dropped nothing, but he caught passes that originally looked like he never had a chance to get his hands on. As a former high school wide receiver (I was a backup, nothing to brag about, just love watching the position as a result), my excitement to watch Dotson suit up in the beloved burgundy and gold grew throughout camp.
Enough of the rah-rah. What about Dotson makes him so good? One thing most people don’t talk about with Dotson is his size, or I guess you could say lack thereof, but I actually think Dotson uses his smaller frame to his advantage. Since Dotson doesn’t fit the prototype 6’3″ 220 pound NFL WR, he uses his smaller frame, closing ability, and quick twitch to get himself open with ease. What does it really boil down to? Dotson’s understanding of the game. One of the easiest ways to get open as a WR is to “get on the toes” of the corner guarding you. It allows you to be in close proximity to the person supposedly “keeping up with you,” and then break whichever direction you want extremely quickly leaving the corner in the dust processing which way you went, or stumbling to keep up if they do read your break correctly. Dotson does this well at the line of scrimmage, on short routes, and especially deeper routes.
Off the line, Dotson showed his quick twitch ability often by calmly coming out of his stance, starting his route by getting a DB to lean one way, then getting on his toes and quickly snapping the other. If you want to know what I mean, watch his two slants from Howell in the week 18 game against Dallas. Another example of Dotson “getting on the defender’s toes” came against Dallas on a play that I actually consider my favorite throw from Sam Howell for a number of reasons I won’t elaborate on in this article because I’ll get riled up and go on a tangent. Dotson comes off the line hard, closes the gap between himself and corner, keeps his eyes up field to sell the long route, and then BAM! He sinks his hips, snaps the route off, and the corner is turning back for him looking silly as Dotson catches the perfectly thrown ball to the outside shoulder that leads him up field for an extra 10 yards (I was really happy with what Howell did against Dallas. One game, I know, but some simple stuff to be excited about that neither of the other two guys did all season),
Dotson uses that ability to close gaps and snap off routes to combine it with a “rounded running style” as I’ve grown to say. Dotson runs with extreme fluidity and timing, and it lets him run his routes in a rounded way that still puts him at an advantage. My favorite example of this came against San Fran, but unfortunately, Dotson lost it in the California sun. Dotson runs a deep semi-over route and rounds it in a way that makes the DB flip his hips from inside to outside leverage, but while he makes the transition, Dotson sharpens the route to cut across his face and *would’ve* scored a TD had he caught it (and a little better of a throw would’ve helped too).
These examples don’t even highlight the obvious plays from this season that Dotson made: all seven touchdowns, the contested deep ball against both the Lions and Giants (his ball tracking is unreal, I didn’t even touch on that), the nice inside sell out-breaking route for a first down against Cleveland, and ESPECIALLY the spin move touchdown against the Giants the first time. Dotson plays with a great understanding of the position, of how the defense covers him, and how to use different skills in different situations. I’ll admit it, when we traded back, I didn’t necessarily love the pick, but I also didn’t know much about Dotson. Guess it’s one of those Shaq situations: I apologize, I wasn’t really familiar with your game. If one thing can still excite this fan base, it should be the fact that we have Terry and Jahan on our team for the next few years. Please God, let Sam Howell sling it to these guys.