Commanders brass sees similarities in Dotson and McLaurin, Smith

Jahan Dotson

It only took a couple of hours for Washington's newest wide receiver to earn comparisons to some of the game's best current and former pass-catchers.

The Commanders selected Penn State's Jahan Dotson 16th overall on Thursday night following a trade-back with the New Orleans Saints, adding a wide receiver with the versatility head coach Ron Rivera and his staff covet. His wide array of skills was quite appealing to Washington's brass and Rivera went as far as comparing Dotson's skillset to a pair of former Pro Bowl wide receivers.

"He reminds me of DeSean Jackson a little bit," Rivera said Thursday night about the former Washington star. "He reminds me of Steve Smith a little bit. A guy a little bit smaller in stature but plays bigger than that."

Obviously, Rivera is simply comparing Dotson's skillsets to those two players -- he's not promising Washington's first-round pick will immediately have the same success as those two. But that's still incredibly high praise from the head coach, as Smith finished his career with five Pro Bowl honors and two All-Pro nods, while Jackson will go down as one of the NFL's best deep threats to ever play the game.

General manager Martin Mayhew also offered up a player comparison for Dotson. It just so happens to be another player on Washington's roster: star wideout Terry McLaurin.

Mayhew's comparison of Dotson to McLaurin specifically focused on the first-round pick's ability to haul in contested catches -- a category McLaurin led all receivers in the NFL in 2021.


"He's got really good competitiveness when the ball is in the air," Mayhew said. "He's kind of like Terry in the fact that he's not the biggest guy, but the 50-50 balls he has the ability to go up and get those. The guy's just got some tremendous ball skills and some versatility."

Just moments later, Rivera offered a very similar sentiment.

"The thing that's really good about the way he plays, that you really appreciate, is that he goes after the football," Rivera said. "He's got a tremendous catch radius, as you saw by some of the highlights. His focus on the ball is tremendous. On those 50-50 balls, he's coming down with it. You're excited about that."

Throughout the 23-minute long press conference, both Mayhew and Rivera repeatedly emphasized Dotson's versatility. It's a trait that staff, especially Rivera, have preached since his arrival in Washington. 

Both Mayhew and Rivera feel Dotson is capable of playing outside receiver and in the slot. They also suggested he could return punts -- something Dotson had experience doing at Penn State. Dotson, too, feels his versatility is arguably his biggest strength.

"I think I can [play] both [inside and outside], to be honest with you," Dotson said. "That's one thing that I feel like is one of my biggest traits of my game is my versatility to be able to play anywhere. To be able to play outside, play inside. So, I'm excited for the opportunity and can't wait to see what [offensive coordinator Scott] Turner has in store for me."

In his three years in Washington thus far, McLaurin has played multiple roles in the Commanders' offense. Dotson feels that the versatility of both he and his new counterpart will allow Washington's new receiver duo to complement one another well.

"I feel like he's someone who can play inside and outside and has a lot of versatility in his game," Dotson said. "I feel like whether he's playing outside and I'm playing inside or I'm playing outside and he's playing inside, we can complement each other like that."

Although some might feel Washington reached on Dotson -- the wide receiver said himself he expected to be drafted later than he was -- Washington's front office is more than pleased with its first-round selection.

"He brings a lot to the table and helps us out in a lot of different ways," Mayhew said.