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

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

“I received uninterested in that actual fast,” stated Dotson, a first-round decide by the Washington Commanders within the 2022 NFL draft. “So, catching the ball is one thing that I’ll do.”

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

It is why Dotson wasn’t simply impressed whereas watching and discussing a few of his school highlights within the spring at Washington’s observe 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 another excuse he stood out. He performed larger than his listed peak of 5-foot-11.

“To not sound cocky, however I do it so typically and I observe that on a regular basis since you by no means know when it comes up,” Dotson stated.

The New Orleans Saints traded up with Washington to pick out receiver Chris Olave at No. 11 general, 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 fingers (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 best, 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 an alternative, Dotson jumped excessive and twisted again to his left for the 22-yard catch.

“The ball was somewhat over my head, so I needed to make an acrobatic catch and pluck it,” Dotson stated. “Interceptions are laborious to come back by, so figuring out I am taking one away from the protection and shifting the sticks is certainly cool.”

Stated Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz: “He catches the soccer as pure as anyone I have been round.”


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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 bought a crossing route, solely to show as much as the again of the top zone. One other excessive go resulted in one other twisting catch and a landing.

“It is my consideration to element and my focus,” Dotson stated. “When the ball is within the air, I am absolutely locked in on the ball and nothing else. I get tunnel imaginative and prescient and really feel I can come down with these performs. I like catching the ball. I hold a soccer with me wherever. I get on the Jugs machine as a lot as doable.”

Dotson nonetheless should show himself within the NFL. Whereas Washington felt he was one of the crucial 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 overall prospect and Scout’s Inc. ranked him No. 25).

However, in observe, he is proven the work along with his fingers has paid off.

“He has fingers like [former Indianapolis Colts receiver] Reggie Wayne,” stated former NFL receiver Santana Moss, who supplies evaluation on the Commanders’ web site. “Reggie would catch a BB at the hours of darkness, it was that easy. That is how I see Jahan. The stuff he is doing may be very polished. … I credit score that to his catch radius and having mitts. Have a look at his fingers, it is like a suction cup. Carson is on the market slinging the ball, however you do not 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 best facet 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 assumed I had that one’ and I used to be like, ‘No, sir,'” Dotson stated.

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

“I do not care to be sincere,” 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 preferred that Dotson maintained the identical path on the route. That allowed Wentz to hit him on his outdoors shoulder. Dotson additionally did not elevate his arms till the final minute, stopping the defender from reacting quick sufficient.

“I am nonetheless engaged on that ability somewhat bit as properly,” McLaurin stated. “You must use little delicate issues like that to maintain [defenders] from getting their fingers in on the ball. In order that was actually good to see from a younger man.”


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Jahan Dotson pulls in an amazing 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 protecting the sector, Dotson sprinted down the best 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 climate sport I’ve ever performed in,” Dotson stated. “It is laborious to get your footing down, your fingers are freezing and it is laborious to catch the ball. These are all distractions; you simply need to hold the principle factor the principle factor.”

The primary factor, for Dotson, includes the small print and having a plan at receiver. It is why veteran Commanders cornerback Kendall Fuller known as him a “professional 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 surface on the primary day. On the second, Fuller anticipated one other outdoors minimize. Dotson knew it, so he broke inside for a wide-open seize.

“To get the identical look and have a counter off it, that is massive,” Fuller stated. “That is a vet transfer.”


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Jahan Dotson grabs a powerful 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 top zone.

“The play earlier than, I had a go route, and I made a reasonably cool catch for about 40 yards,” Dotson stated. “I used to be useless drained and attempting to come back out of the sport to get water, however we had been going hurry-up. I received a horrible launch and the DB jammed me to the sideline, however I fought on the finish and gave my quarterback an opportunity.”

Dotson skilled 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 decide by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021.

“Pat does an amazing job of boxing individuals out and taking part in massive,” Dotson stated. “Watching him each day and the way he maneuvers and assaults the ball within the air … We’ve got the identical mindset when the ball is within the air, that it is ours. Folks name it 50-50 balls, however we expect it is 100 to zero.”

Those that know Dotson nod their head in settlement.

“In that 2020 season, he had some drops early on, whether or not it was in camp or no matter,” stated Penn State receivers coach Taylor Stubblefield, a former school wideout. “He simply steadily continued to enhance to a ‘wow’ issue. ‘Oh, he caught that.’ That goes to his competitiveness.”

Throughout Washington’s rookie minicamp in Could, receivers coach Drew Terrell pulled him apart and advised him he wanted to run quicker.

“He did not appear to be he was attempting or working, however he’s. He is simply that clean,” Terrell stated. “He isn’t a man it’s a must to sport plan for — ‘how are we going to get this man the ball?’ He can exit and produce naturally. That is what he placed on his school tape.”


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