Inside Washington Commanders rookie Jahan Dotson’s knack for making acrobatic catches

ASHBURN, Va. — The choice was a straightforward one: A younger Jahan Dotson favored catching the ball much more than he loved pushups. His cousin would toss Dotson footballs at a neighborhood park, forcing him to make diving catches. A dropped ball equaled 10 pushups.

“I got tired of that real quick,” stated Dotson, a first-round choose by the Washington Commanders within the 2022 NFL draft. “So, catching the ball is something that I will do.”

Even when it means hauling in a go like a rebound in basketball, or reaching up excessive to snag one with two palms, or extending far to the within for a throw. All of which the rookie receiver has proven in coaching camp and through a stellar faculty profession at Penn State.

It is why Dotson wasn’t simply impressed whereas watching and discussing a few of his faculty highlights within the spring at Washington’s follow facility. The Commanders beloved Dotson for a lot of causes, together with savvy route working and a mature strategy, however a few of these catches at Penn State revealed one more reason he stood out. He performed larger than his listed top of 5-foot-11.

“Not to sound cocky, but I do it so often and I practice that all the time because you never know when it comes up,” Dotson stated.

The New Orleans Saints traded up with Washington to pick receiver Chris Olave at No. 11 total, and Dotson, at No. 16, was the fifth of six wideouts picked within the first spherical. Although he’s the shortest of the six, his palms (9.5 inches) are larger than two of the receivers chosen above him and his 36-inch vertical leap was matched solely by Garrett Wilson (No. 10, New York Jets) amongst first-round receivers on the scouting mix — measurements that assist clarify why Dotson performs larger than his dimension.

5 performs from his Penn State profession assist clarify why the Commanders are enthusiastic about him.

The highlights

Sept. 18 vs. Auburn, first-and-10 from the Penn State 23: Dotson, aligned contained in the numbers to the fitting, ran a deep crosser to interrupt free 20 yards downfield. A security eight yards behind him ready to seize an interception on a go that appeared too excessive. As a substitute, Dotson jumped excessive and twisted again to his left for the 22-yard catch.

“The ball was a little over my head, so I had to make an acrobatic catch and pluck it,” Dotson stated. “Interceptions are hard to come by, so knowing I’m taking one away from the defense and moving the sticks is definitely cool.”

Stated Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz: “He catches the football as natural as anybody I’ve been around.”


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Jahan Dotson makes catch for 8-yard landing

Oct. 2 vs. Indiana, second-and-goal from the 8: Dotson lined up on the numbers and offered a crossing route, solely to show as much as the again of the tip zone. One other excessive go resulted in one other twisting catch and a landing.

“It’s my attention to detail and my focus,” Dotson stated. “When the ball is in the air, I’m fully locked in on the ball and nothing else. I get tunnel vision and feel I can come down with those plays. I love catching the ball. I keep a football with me anywhere. I get on the Jugs machine as much as possible.”

Dotson nonetheless should show himself within the NFL. Whereas Washington felt he was one of the vital pro-ready gamers within the draft, others questioned if the Commanders picked him too excessive (ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. had Dotson ranked because the No. 22 total prospect and Scout’s Inc. ranked him No. 25).

However, in follow, he is proven the work along with his palms has paid off.

“He has hands like [former Indianapolis Colts receiver] Reggie Wayne,” stated former NFL receiver Santana Moss, who gives evaluation on the Commanders’ web site. “Reggie would catch a BB in the dark, it was that effortless. That’s how I see Jahan. The stuff he’s doing is very polished. … I credit that to his catch radius and having mitts. Look at his hands, it’s like a suction cup. Carson is out there slinging the ball, but you don’t hear it hit [Dotson’s] mitts.”


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Sean Clifford heaves the ball downfield, and Jahan Dotson outjumps three Illinois defenders to haul it in.

Oct. 23 vs. Illinois, first-and-10 from the Penn State 22: On a go down the fitting aspect for Dotson, three defenders converged. One reached up for the ball, however Dotson jumped as he ran and stole it. After he and Jartavius Martin landed, they stared at each other, and Dotson shook his head.

“He was like, ‘I thought I had that one’ and I was like, ‘No, sir,'” Dotson stated.

Does he perceive how irritating that scenario is for a defender?

“I don’t care to be honest,” he stated.

In Washington’s first week of coaching camp, Dotson caught a 40-yard contested go over the shoulder from Wentz. It impressed fellow receiver Terry McLaurin, who favored that Dotson maintained the identical path on the route. That allowed Wentz to hit him on his exterior shoulder. Dotson additionally did not increase his arms till the final minute, stopping the defender from reacting quick sufficient.

“I’m still working on that skill a little bit as well,” McLaurin stated. “You have to use little subtle things like that to keep [defenders] from getting their hands in on the ball. So that was really good to see from a young guy.”


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Jahan Dotson pulls in an important catch and retains himself in-bounds lengthy sufficient to get Penn State a landing.

Nov. 27 vs. Michigan State, first-and-10 from the Spartans’ 27: With snow overlaying the sector, Dotson sprinted down the fitting sideline, making a leaping catch a foot from the boundary. As he catches the ball simply contained in the 3-yard line, he begins to fall out of bounds, however stretches the ball over the pylon for the rating.

“That was the craziest weather game I’ve ever played in,” Dotson stated. “It’s hard to get your footing down, your hands are freezing and it’s hard to catch the ball. Those are all distractions; you just have to keep the main thing the main thing.”

The primary factor, for Dotson, includes the small print and having a plan at receiver. It is why veteran Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller referred to as him a “pro ever since Day 1.”

Within the spring, Dotson confronted Fuller on consecutive days out of the identical formation and in opposition to the identical protection. He beat him to the skin on the primary day. On the second, Fuller anticipated one other exterior reduce. Dotson knew it, so he broke inside for a wide-open seize.

“To get the same look and have a counter off it, that’s big,” Fuller stated. “That’s a vet move.”


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Jahan Dotson grabs a formidable one-handed catch and makes magic once more on the subsequent play for a Penn State landing.

Oct. 31, 2020, first-and-10, Ohio State 20-yard line: Dotson was jammed on the line, however the go was lofted to him on the 10-yard line. Because the defensive again, Shaun Wade, leaned backward Dotson, reaching excessive, grabbed the ball along with his outstretched proper hand and by no means stumbled as he bumped into the tip zone.

“The play before, I had a go route, and I made a pretty cool catch for about 40 yards,” Dotson stated. “I was dead tired and trying to come out of the game to get water, but we were going hurry-up. I got a horrible release and the DB jammed me to the sideline, but I fought at the end and gave my quarterback a chance.”

Dotson educated with NFL receivers this offseason, together with Chris Godwin and Jarvis Landry, and his shut good friend KJ Hamler. However he additionally realized from former teammate and tight finish Pat Freiermuth, a second-round choose by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.

“Pat does a great job of boxing people out and playing big,” Dotson stated. “Watching him every day and how he maneuvers and attacks the ball in the air … We have the same mindset when the ball is in the air, that it’s ours. People call it 50-50 balls, but we think it’s 100 to zero.”

Those that know Dotson nod their head in settlement.

“In that 2020 season, he had some drops early on, whether it was in camp or whatever,” stated Penn State receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield, a former faculty wideout. “He just gradually continued to improve to a ‘wow’ factor. ‘Oh, he caught that.’ That goes to his competitiveness.”

Throughout Washington’s rookie minicamp in Might, receivers coach Drew Terrell pulled him apart and informed him he wanted to run sooner.

“He didn’t look like he was trying or running, but he is. He’s just that smooth,” Terrell stated. “He’s not a guy you have to game plan for — ‘how are we going to get this guy the ball?’ He can go out and produce naturally. That’s what he put on his college tape.”