Commanders

Rivera: Dotson pick is 'classic example' of top-notch drafting

Commanders

NFL Draft choices and classes typically take a couple of years to really be judged, but in Jahan Dotson, Ron Rivera feels like he already knows after a couple of weeks that Washington got its 2022 first-round selection right.

In his first two professional outings, Dotson has caught seven passes for 99 yards and three touchdowns, as well as a two-point conversion.

One of those scores was the game-winner in Week 1's contest with the Jaguars, while his end zone trip in Week 2 at Detroit came after a route that surely has the Lions' defensive back that Dotson roasted rethinking whether football is what he truly wants to do as a career.

Remember, though, that not everyone was pleased when the Commanders acquired Dotson with the 16th overall pick this past April.

Some — including, in the interest of transparency, the writer of the words you're currently reading — lamented that the franchise elected to trade back from the 11th slot (where receiver Jameson Williams and safety Kyle Hamilton were on the board) to eventually secure Dotson further down the order.

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In light of that, Rivera touched on how rewarding Dotson's instant production has been during a Monday one-on-one interview with NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

"That's really one of the sore spots for me because we do a lot of work," Rivera said, referencing the lack of unanimous excitement about Dotson's arrival. 

"Our scouting department — Marty Hurney, Martin Mayhew, Tim Gribble, Eric Stokes — we have a whole group of guys that go out and scout these people and spend a lot of time on the road. They do it because they enjoy it, they do it because they want to be right.

"Jahan, to me, is a classic example of being able to do it right."

Despite Dotson's early success, Rivera and his front office's track record in terms of drafting for the organization remains flawed. Chase Young hasn't yet hit like a No. 2 overall prospect should, while other serious investments like Jamin Davis, Dyami Brown and Benjamin St-Juste have much to prove.

Dotson, though — with his glue-like hands, speed and maturity — appears to be completely worth the ample praise he's already receiving. Plus, as Rivera pointed out in his discussion with Finlay, the team landed bonus assets along with the Penn State product by doing the deal with the Saints.

"We said if we get to a certain point and he's still available with a couple of other guys available, we can go backwards," Rivera said as he recounted the club's draft strategy. "What happened was we also got two picks out of that. So we feel like we've gotten an opportunity to add to our team not just a solid player in Jahan, but we got some value at some other positions."

Brian Robinson Jr. is one of the other rookies Washington was able to grab following the swap with New Orleans, and his comeback from being shot in an attempted robbery is, miraculously, going quite smoothly.

Robinson's eligible to come off of the Non-Football Injury list once Week 4 passes, and whenever he does return, Rivera envisions him contributing in a fashion similar to Dotson.

"I think it helps change the complexion of who we are as a football team," the coach said. "And I think it'll also help take some of the stuff off of the defense."

That defense is what's threatening to sidetrack this season already, and addressing that faulty unit ought to be Rivera and coordinator Jack Del Rio's top priority. Now is not the time for too many victory laps.

However, in Dotson (and potentially Robinson, too), Rivera has seemingly secured a rising star, which is important to note. The 22-year-old obviously has to continue to deliver on offense for multiple campaigns before legitimately cementing his status as an inarguable coup, but he's off to a laudable start.

 

Consistently identifying and obtaining Dotson-like difference-makers via the draft is every squad's goal, and hopefully he can be a template for future moves in future editions of the event.