2022 NFL Draft Rookie Profile: Jahan Dotson (Fantasy Football)
We continue our rookie profile series with a four-year collegiate prospect who took a couple of years to truly emerge: Jahan Dotson out of Penn State. But while he was not overly productive early on, Dotson would operate as one of the best receivers in the country starting his Junior year. And after closing out his career with two strong seasons, he is now projected to be a borderline first-round wide receiver, hovering in the late 20s/early 30s in most mock drafts. And considering the depth of this wide receiver class, Dotson could be an intriguing option for dynasty managers in the early 2nd of most rookie drafts.
Let’s dive in!
Editor’s Note: This article is part of our Rookie Profile series going on until the 2022 NFL Draft. For more on each rookie, check out Andy, Mike, and Jason’s exclusive rookie rankings and production profiles found only in the Dynasty Pass, part of the UDK+ for 2022.
College Production Profile
As I mentioned above, Jahan Dotson sat behind a couple of NFL-caliber receivers in Pat Freiermuth and KJ Hamler before truly breaking out at Penn State. As a result, in his first two years, he totaled only 691 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. This equates to a 15.8% receiving yards market share, which is still somewhat impressive considering he had to compete for targets against two second-round receivers. It is important to note, however, that Dotson was one of the more efficient receivers in the Big Ten, ranking 5th in the conference in Yards per Reception (18.1). Regardless, this does hurt Dotson’s analytical profile as we generally want to see receivers break out within their first two collegiate seasons.
Fast forward to 2020, Dotson would enter this 3rd year as the WR1 for the Nittany Lions, taking a massive step forward in his production. He would more than double his Sophomore receiving yards market share from 16.9% to 38.5%. In addition, he would set a career-high 40.19% weighted receiving dominator rating, while also averaging an impressive 2.89 receiving yards per team pass attempt. No matter what metric you looked at, Dotson’s production was much improved, resulting in a breakout at age 20.5 (48th percentile since 2013). To put his breakout campaign into context, Dotson produced even with Freiermuth on the roster. In fact, in the 4 games that they played together, he averaged 97 receiving yards and 1.25 receiving touchdowns per game. And while Dotson’s best seasons came after Hamler declared for the NFL, Hamler never exceeded a 35% receiving yards market share at Penn State. Dotson, on the other hand, did it twice.
That leads us to Dotson’s final year at Penn State. He would set a career-high 1,182 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns in 2021; however, his market share and efficiency did decline slightly. As you can see in the table above, his receiving yards market share dropped nearly three percentage points. In addition, while his overall volume did increase (91 receptions), Dotson averaged a career-low 13.0 yards per reception. Regardless, his 2021 season was still extremely productive, despite a slight decline in a few of his metrics. And over the last two years, Dotson was by far one of the most productive receivers in the country. In fact, among all Power 5 wide receivers since 2020 (min. 8 games played), Dotson ranks:
- 9th in Receiving Yards Per Team Pass Attempt (2.75)
- 8th in Receiving Yards Market Share (37.1%)
- 6th in Weighted Receiving Dominator Rating (39.5%)
Even with his later breakout age, Dotson enters the draft with a productive profile. And assuming he is selected in the late first round, it would not surprise me if he finds a way to be an immediate contributor for a contending team in 2022.
Dotson, like many receivers at this year’s combine, finished with a very respectable 40-time. Clocking in at 4.43 seconds, PlayerProfiler has him ranked in the 85th percentile. However, his height-adjusted speed score of 89.9 is far from ideal. Because he only measured in at 5’11’ and 178 lbs, his speed score would suggest that he should have clocked in much faster than at 4.43. For reference, Treylon Burks ran a 4.55 40-time while weighing nearly 50 lbs (!!) heavier than Dotson. His burst score – which combines vertical and broad jump into one number – comes in much higher at 121.7 (53rd percentile). And while his film suggests that Dotson’s speed and acceleration are well above-average, his size could be a concern at the next level. Ideally, you would like to see him gain some weight heading into his rookie year. But regardless, Dotson’s speed and route-running are what make him a special player, which should still give him plenty of opportunities to succeed despite his lighter frame.
What’s on Tape
If you followed along with my weekly Dynasty Report, you might already be familiar with my film-evaluation process. In short, I watch 4 to 6 games, taking notes on nearly every offensive snap that the player was involved in. Let’s dive in!
Games Viewed: 2021 vs Ohio State, 2021 vs Wisconsin, 2021 vs Auburn, 2021 vs Michigan, 2021 vs Maryland
1. Dotson’s burst and top-end speed allow him to create separation in all phases of his route
What immediately stands out in Dotson’s game is his ability to accelerate and create separation in all areas of the field. He often combines his burst with savvy hesitation moves, catching defensive backs flat-footed before re-accelerating into his route. In addition, Dotson showcased an ability to maintain his top-end speed, giving him plenty of separation, especially on long-developing vertical plays. More importantly, Dotson rarely loses a step transitioning in and out of his breaks due to his exceptional change-of-direction speed, which allowed him to routinely beat defensive backs on double moves.
2. Dotson is exceptional at manipulating DBs with his deceptive and violent route running
Simply put, Dotson is a route technician. He excels at deceiving defenders, forcing them to commit to one route only to change directions and leave them in the dust. Dotson does this by fully committing to his initial route, whether it be with his footwork or using a variety of head and shoulder fakes to fool the defense. At times, Dotson will even turn his head completely to fake eye contact with his quarterback in an effort to sell the route. And as soon as the defensive back turns his hip, Dotson uses his aforementioned explosiveness to seamlessly alter his trajectory. It’s hard to only pick one clip, but the route below against Michigan is one of my favorites. Using some of the techniques I mentioned above, Dotson sells the inside breaking route, puts his foot in the ground, and accelerates in the other direction. Easy first down.
3. Dotson is a sure-handed pass catcher with a wide catch radius
“I approach [each ball] as a million dollars. It’s a million dollars in the air. If you want it, you go get it. Every time the ball’s in the air, it’s a chance to make a name for yourself.” That was Dotson’s response in an interview after torching the Ohio State secondary during the 2020 season, a game that included an impressive one-handed catch for a touchdown. I love Dotson’s mindset of pursuing every ball with the intent of making a play, which was on full display in his film. Even on slightly off-target throws, Dotson showcased an ability to adjust to the pass or use his vertical to snag the reception. And despite being a lighter receiver (only 178 lbs), physical coverage did not cause him to drop many (if any) passes, at least in the five games that I reviewed. Below is just one example of a slightly overthrown ball that still winds up being caught due to Dotson’s relentless pursuit and impressive catch radius.
What’s Not on Tape
1. Broken Tackles and Yards After Contact
As highlighted above, Dotson is not the biggest receiver in this class at only 178 pounds. So unlike a Treylon Burks or Drake London who frequently broke through tackles for additional yardage, Dotson was actually the opposite. He rarely gained any yards after contact and did not break many tackles in the open field. More often than not, he would actually go down on the first attempted tackle. Keep in mind, this does not mean that Dotson is unable to gain yards after the catch, as he showcased an ability to be elusive and evade tackles. However, if a defender is able to get a hand on him, that generally meant that Dotson would be down on contact, unable to extend the play. And while this aspect of his game is clearly lacking, Dotson has always been a more savvy player who relies on his route running and quickness (rather than his physicality) to win on the field.
2. Consistent Success against Press Coverage
I will preface this by saying that Dotson only had a handful of snaps against press coverage in the five games that I reviewed. But while the sample size was very limited, the results were not always positive. As I mentioned above, Dotson excels at using his quickness to create separation and leverage. However, I noticed that he struggled to get into his routes against physical coverage, not being able to create the same advantage that he’s used to when a DB had his hands on him. And while he did have a couple of reps where he was able to avoid the contact and accelerate into his route, the struggle against physicality was evident. Keep in mind, Dotson will not be facing press coverage on every play at the next level, so he should still find plenty of room to operate. However, to eventually become a WR1 for an NFL team, this is an aspect of his game he will need to improve on.
2022 Fantasy Outlook
Dotson enters the draft as one of the most refined route runners in this class. And along with his impressive acceleration and speed, it would not surprise me if he found immediate playing time for a team in need of offensive weapons and special teams difference-makers. While he does clearly rank below the first tier of this wide receiver class, Dotson’s profile is actually very similar to Jameson Williams. Neither were very productive in their first two seasons but took advantage of their opportunity in their third year. Dotson, however, is not an early declare prospect and does enter the league a year older than Williams.
From a draft capital standpoint, Dotson will most likely be the 6th wide receiver taken off the board. According to the NFL Mock Draft Database, his average draft position is currently hovering around pick 33. Interestingly, two of the most popular landing spots for Dotson are the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs, two teams who are in need of playmakers after trading away their superstar receivers. And while we absolutely want prospects to get drafted as high as possible (knowing that draft capital dictates opportunity), Dotson might just find himself in a great situation if he can land on a contending team with an already established quarterback. If this were to happen, Dotson could shape up to be an intriguing pick for both redraft and dynasty formats in 2022.