It wasn’t all that long ago that undersized receivers were afterthoughts in NFL offenses. At best they were nifty options in the slot, but for the most part teams sought big bodied receivers.
More recently, teams have begun tailoring offenses to specific players’ skill sets, and undersized, but athletic, receivers have become major threats.
Penn State’s Jahan Dotson is one of the smallest receivers in the draft at 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, but he is also one of the hardest players in the draft to defend. Not only is he lightning quick, but he is one of the very best route runners in college football. Dotson was a focal point of Penn State’s offense, and he rewarded them with almost 1,200 yards of offense and 12 receiving touchdowns last year.
The New York Giants have fielded one of the weakest offenses in the NFL over the last two seasons, averaging under 20 points per game even at their best. They obviously need all the help they can get on the offensive side of the ball and players who can find the endzone are welcome. They could also use a receiver who is a detailed route runner and a natural separator.
Could the Giants use a premium pick on Dotson?
prospect: Jahan Dotson (5)
Games Watched: vs. Wisconsin (2021), vs. Auburn (2021), vs. Ohio State (2021), vs. Michigan (2021)
Games Played: 42
Yards (YPC): 2.757 (15.1 per catch)
Yards (YPC): 18 (2.3 per carry)
Total Touchdowns: 26 (25 receiving, 1 rushing)
Games Played: 12
Yards (YPC): 1.182 (13.0 per catch)
Yards (YPC): 18 (3.0 per carry)
Total Touchdowns: 13 (12 receiving, 1 rushing)
Best: Route running, ball skills, athleticism, yards after catch
Sausage: size, play strength
Projection: A starting receiver with position and scheme versatility.
Penn State’s Jahan Dotson is an undersized but athletic and savvy wide receiver prospect.
Dotson played out of a variety of alignments in Penn State’s offense, lining up on the line of scrimmage as an X receiver, off the line as a Flanker, out of the slot, as well as in stack and bunch formations. He was also occasionally used as a Wildcat quarterback as well.
Dotson is a very athletic player with great quickness, agility, burst, and long speed. He has a variety of efficient release strategies and is able to beat press coverage off the line of scrimmage despite his stature. He does a good job of using his hands to defuse jams while his quickness allows him to freeze defensive backs as he releases into his route. Dotson gets up to speed very quickly and does a good job of pressing the stem of his route into defensive backs. Likewise, he makes judicious use of head and body fakes to create uncertainty.
Dotson uses every phase of his routes as a weapon against defenders and is already relatively advanced in out-thinking defenders. He is able to set defenders up and exploit them when they flip their hips early or in the wrong direction.
He also has a good understanding of both offensive and defensive concepts, and how he fits into the overall structure of the offense. Dotson plays as hard without the ball in his hands as he does as the focus of the offense. He does a good job of using his routes to create conflicts in the defense and separation for his teammates. Likewise, he takes advantage of route concepts and is very good at finding voids in coverage schemes.
Dotson is a physical, competitive receiver who doesn’t shy away from contact. He is willing to extend and expose his body to pluck the ball out of the air, and is also a willing blocker.
But while Dotson is a willing and competitive blocker, he isn’t a very good one. His lack of size and relative lack of play strength show up in his blocking, and he can be out-muscled by most defenders. Doston’s stature can also show up at the catch point. His athleticism and ball skills allow him to expand his catch radius, but defenders can still play around or over him. He is also vulnerable to being overpowered in contested catch situations.
Overall Grade: 7.7
Jahan Dotson projects as a starting receiver at the NFL level. His exact role will likely vary from offense to offense, but he should find the field very early in his career.
Teams that run more vertical offenses might look at Dotson as a “slot only” option, while West Coast or Spread offenses should feel free to move him around the formation. Dotson might have to be protected from press-man coverage at the NFL level, at least early on, but he should be very dangerous when teams scheme him a free release. He should be productive as a flanker, out of the slot, or in stack and bunch formations. Dotson should also be a capable ball carrier in the NFL as well. He was productive on screen plays, and has some experience as a ball carrier at Penn State. Granted, he wasn’t productive on end-arounds or sweeps, that had more to do with poor execution around him.
He is a very smart and savvy route runner for a college prospect, and that should allow him to get up to speed quickly in the NFL. While Dotson won’t scare anybody getting off the bus, his precision route running and quick-twitch athleticism are going to make him a headache for defenses.