Draft experts react to Commanders taking Jahan Dotson


After trading back from No. 11 to 16, Washington elected to bolster their wide receiver room in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night. Jahan Dotson from Penn State is the first draft pick of the Commanders era.

Dotson didn’t seem to be on many pundits’ radars for the Commanders originally, considering the stacked WR class coming out of college this year. A speedy yet small wideout with amazing hands, Dotson had the national media buzzing as he becomes the newest member of the Burgundy and Gold. He could pair nicely with established teammate Terry McLaurin -- even if they went to rival schools. 

“Terry McLaurin needed a running mate. Now he’s got one,” said ESPN analyst Louis Riddick. “Jahan is an inside-outside guy. He can go in the slot and let [McLaurin] go ahead and work the outside because they didn’t get any production in Washington out of the slot, and Dotson can do that.”

Washington’s primary slot option last season was Adam Humphries who, at times, showed spurts of production and gave the Commanders crucial yards on several third downs. Now, though, the rookie Dotson should step into that slot-WR1 role and has potential to complement McLaurin and a healthy Curtis Samuel. 

Dotson’s best attribute is his hands. He essentially never drops the ball, is quick enough to rocket downfield off shallow throws, and could double as a deep threat which would pair nicely with Carson Wentz’ downfield style. He could also potentially step into a return role for Washington, which he did at times while in college.


“Jahan Dotson has THE best hands in this draft. Unbelievable,” said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah. “His route running, here you see he's able to show you that polish at the top of his route, be able to attack that leverage, double moves. We've seen this with a bunch of these wide receivers so far tonight.”

Jeremiah went on to give Dotson his pro comp -- a player Commanders fans will be extremely familiar with, both as friend and foe.

“He looks like DeSean Jackson physically,” Jeremiah said. “He's got that same type of a build and he can get that extra gear when he needs it. The run after catch. He can make you miss and he can run away from you showing his niftiness there. Contested catches? Here's where you see the best hands in the draft. The ability to adjust down the field - outstanding.”

One downside to Dotson’s outlook, though, would be his size. He measured 5-foot-11, 178 pounds at the combine, but was also noticed playing bigger than his size at Penn State, often snagging 50-50 balls of defensive backs who were much bigger than him. His consistency helps, too.

“What I loved about him DJ is he had a great feel for space, particularly over the middle,” said NFL draft analyst and former player Joel Klatt. “Watch him climb the linebackers in play-action and there again those hands that you were talking about. Climbing the ladder. Going up, snatching that football out of mid air. An unbelievable catch…Just keep in mind he played for three different offensive coordinators over the last three years and he was still so productive - second in Penn State history with 183 receptions.”

Running the 40-yard dash in a lightning-quick 4.43 seconds, Dotson has the tools to become a viable member of Washington’s WR core.