Jahan Dotson might not be the biggest receiver in the 2022 NFL draft class, but he finds ways to get open, can run after the catch, and has good lateral quickness. He is a fantastic zone receiver. Jahan Dotson understands how to find soft spots in the defense and is quarterback friendly by working back to the ball and making himself available on scramble drills. He has consistent hands and wins at the point of the catch. However, at 5’11” and 183 lbs, he can struggle with physical and long corners. While he has reportedly run a 4.33 40-yard dash, that speed does not appear on film and he has trouble winning over the top and creating vertical separation.
Dotson has really consistent hands. He routinely plucks the ball out of the air and makes his quarterback look good. He’s not afraid to make catches over the middle of the field or in traffic, which makes him a great option at slot in the NFL. It is incredibly important for smaller receivers to be able to make catches outside of their frame and give the quarterback a bigger target. Dotson does just that.
Dotson also makes sure to work back towards the ball on intermediate routes which prevents the defender from making a play on the ball and ensures that he makes the catches that are available to him.
Dotson is also great at feeling the soft spots on defense. He throttles down in open space, can read coverages, and find ways to get open. He’s a great receiver to build chemistry with for 3rd downs and important situations because he always finds space.
Here, on a Mesh concept, Dotson reads that the defense is in zone coverage, which tells him not to continue his route across the field. Instead, he has to settle in the soft spot of the zone outside the tackles. That prevents him from running into the flat defenders waiting for him outside. These kinds of coverage reads are common at the NFL level and are essential for receivers to have success.
Work within Route
When Jahan Dotson gets a clean release, he uses good route technique once he’s into the play. He understands how to work leverage and stems and get onto the toes of the defensive back. Here, on a chair route, he makes sure to push vertically and get the defender on their heals before snapping it off and continuing across the field.
Despite running a reported 4.33 40, Dotson doesn’t separate vertically on film. Even on double moves or against press coverage, he doesn’t run by guys in the secondary.
He is much more explosive in and out of breaks than he is at using his straight-line speed. Which, for a guy that is being projected at the end of the first round, is a little bit of a problem. We’ll see how he does at the combine, but it’s a red flag that his measurables don’t match the film. That limits him as a prospect as more of a pure slot guy that’s a better zone receiver than a man-beater.
Dotson also has some issues with his smaller frame and defeating jams. When he’s already in his route, he’s excellent at removing hands and staying on his line, but when there is a corner walked up on him at the line of scrimmage, he can struggle.
Against NFL caliber corners, he just wasn’t strong enough or disciplined enough with his hands. He let corners get into his body and struggled to remove them once they got a piece of him.
Lastly, Dotson can struggle at times with route tempo. As a general rule of thumb, when corners are playing patient, you want to be the aggressor. When they’re aggressive, you want to be patient. Off the line, Dotson gives the corner some foot fire, but they’re playing patiently and waiting for him to declare his move. However, Dotson continues to foot fire and never threatens the corner. The corner collects him and easily removes him on the RPO look from Penn State.
Jahan Dotson has some promising traits as a slot receiver. He has consistent hands and is great and finding ways to get open in zones. He’s good at the underneath and intermediate levels and excels at change-of-direction routes. Those traits combined with what’s expected to be a good 40 time, could cause a team to reach for him in the first round. I view him as a day two prospect with a mid-level ceiling. He needs some polish in his route running and the speed has to translate on film. If he can become more consistent in those things, he can be a reliable weapon that will fit into most offensive systems.