To kick off each dynasty profile from the 2022 skill position draft class, a dated positional ranking will be presented, relevant to that prospect’s position. As the profiles have been published, the rankings have evolved. The number of WRs that are either declared underclassmen or seniors exhausting their eligibility – at least the ones that have publicly declared their intention to pursue a career in the NFL – currently stands at a crowded 168. And that isn’t even an exhaustive number since the WRs who have zero chance of being drafted have already been filtered out from the very long list of those testing at a collegiate Pro Day. Without further delay, here are the top-25 WR rankings from the 2022 class as of publication:
|Age (Week 1)
|North Dakota State
|John Metchie III
|Calvin Austin III
|Kevin Austin Jr.
Jahan Dotson was one of the limited number of wide receivers that had his skills develop early enough to not only make the varsity squad as a 14-year-old freshman, he ended the 2014 season for Nazareth Area High School as the team MVP and with All-Area First Team honors. He didn’t play for a HS powerhouse, mind you, but a 59/681/9 receiving line (11.5 YPR) is impressive nonetheless. Dotson emerged to collect state-wide recognition the following season. He won two gold medals at the PIAA 3A State Championship in the 200-meters, long jump and he contributed to his school’s 4x100 relay victory. He was Nazareth Area’s first PIAA individual champion in 46 years!
His next venture during that Age 15 season was in collecting 66 receptions, 1,179 yards (17.9 YPR) and 16 TDs for the Blue Eagles. In return, he was recognized with PIAA 4A All-State First Team honors, selected as an Eastern Pennsylvania Conference (EPC) South Division All-Star as a WR and CB. In addition, he averaged 16.0 PPG, 4.5 APG and 2.0 SPG on the hardcourt. Even with the big season landing him offers from Penn State, Texas A&M, Rutgers and West Virginia, Dotson felt his talents deserved more attention. Chatter across the state of Pennsylvania identified the HS circuit gushing about how special he could be down the road. But Dotson wanted national attention.
Exactly 120 days after playing his last snap of his sophomore football season, Dotson transferred 85 miles southeast to The Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey. The Falcons were considered the third-best football prep school in the nation heading into the 2016 season. He would also have an opportunity to play alongside two blue chippers in Allan Walters and Jadan Blue. In his first game with Peddie, Dotson threw down a 7/224/1 receiving line. However, Dotson was forced to fill in at QB after Walters broke his collarbone. Two games into the position switch, Dotson suffered a gruesome compound fracture in his right leg.
Even though Jahan only made it through 4.5 games for Peddie, he still did enough to earn an All-Mid-Atlantic Prep League First Team selection. And it didn’t prevent programs tossing an additional 24 scholarship offers his way prior to making the decision to transfer back to Nazareth Area for his senior season. Doston was welcomed with open arms, with a shiny new team captain designation. He didn’t quite match the outstanding results from his sophomore season (62/889/15), but it didn’t prevent him from recognition as a PIAA 6A All-State First Teamer, the EPC South Division’s Offensive MVP and a spot on USA Today’s All-USA Pennsylvania First Team.
We saw our first signs of Dotson’s mortality as a senior. It’s understandable that Dotson would need some time to regain his explosion after that significant leg injury. That said, it’s still useful to look over the evidence. And the best examples in that regard can be found inside his track and field numbers at Nazareth Area. In the table below, we have the results from Dotson’s sophomore year when he took home the state championship in the 200m and long jump. Then we have his measurements in the same events after breaking his leg:
The only athletic testing from a football combine atmosphere on Dotson was also collected after breaking that right leg – exactly 30 weeks to the day of the injury:
For his HS career, Dotson holds Nazareth Area school records for receptions (187), yards (2,755) and TDs (40). That TD total stands as the eighth-most during a career in Pennsylvania HS history. Dotson held offers from 28 schools – 27 from Power Five programs – including Penn State (obviously), Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame, Michigan, Miami, USC, Texas A&M, UCLA, etc. He originally committed to UCLA but, after Jim L. Mora was fired — the coach that had won over Dotson with their strong relationship — even a direct call from new HC Chip Kelly failed to alter Dotson’s decision to flip to Penn State.
Former WR coach and recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis delivered an important sales pitch and Saquon Barkley sealed the deal by sharing his personal experience of a family-like atmosphere within the program. Gattis actually left the Nittany Lions before Dotson even played a single snap with the team. In fact, Dotson would end up playing under a different WR coach in each of his first three seasons in University Park:
David Corley Jr. (2018) — current WR coach at South Carolina State
Gerad Parker (2019) — current TE coach at Notre Dame
Taylor Stubblefield (2020-present)
Dotson actually needed a full season on campus before he put up impact numbers. With KJ Hamler, Pat Freiermuth, Juwan Johnson and Miles Sanders around, the target shares were initially difficult to come by for Dotson. But he pushed his way up the pecking order – even ahead of the consensus top wideout from the 2018 recruiting class, Justin Shorter – to generate the third-most catches (27), yards (488) and TDs (five) for PSU as a true sophomore. As a true junior, Dotson paced the Big Ten in receiving yards (884). His receiving yardage total from his 6/189/2 line in Week 16 vs. Illinois is the sixth-most in a single game in team history. It was all good enough to earn him a Third Team All-Big Ten selection.
Dotson ended the ’21 season with the second-most receptions (91), yards (1,182) and TDs (12) in a single season in Penn State history. As difficult as it might be to believe, he is only the fourth WR in PSU history to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards in a single season. One week after plastering Ohio State with big numbers for the second consecutive season, Dotson erupted for an 11/242/3 receiving line at Maryland in Week 10 — those 242 receiving yards are the most in one game in Nittany Lions’ history. Then the recognition floodgates opened on the awards circuit for his senior efforts. Let’s just go the bulleted list route:
Third Team All-American (AP)
Reese's Senior Bowl All-American
Second Team All-Big Ten (coaches and AP)
Biletnikoff Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year semifinalist
Dotson closed out his Penn State career with the second-most receptions (183), fourth-most yards (2,757) and second-most TDs (25) in program history. And he recorded the second-most games with 100-or-more receiving yards (11). After sitting out his team’s bowl game to prepare, Dotson provided us with his physical dimensions at the NFL Combine:
We received first-hand evidence toward detailing both the impact that that broken leg played into his poor pre-college timings from The Opening Regionals and to his extreme devotion to conditioning from his Combine testing. His speed is legit, his vertical exceeds the vital threshold for his size and his 225-pound bench results inform us he’s not going to be tossed around by NFL corners. You can see the full results in the table below:
Kicking into his receiving tool evaluation, it’s important to establish a basic role for Dotson’s future before we break down his release attributes. Dotson is a natural flanker, like Garrett Wilson. He’s also similar to Wilson in that he is versatile enough to play inside. We should view his future as likely landing in the slot, but also provided with everything he needs to work on the outside without issue. Dotson has relatively tight mechanics at the get-off — chin heavy over his front knee. Dotson’s initial movement is consistently focused on his back leg to erupt out of his release. Using a textbook pre-snap stance, the key to a great release is consistency.
Dotson showcases the sudden shiftiness to move press corners out of his way. After becoming frustrated with Treylon Burks’ refusal to do so, it was refreshing to see that Dotson is a willing hand-fighter. That said, Dotson’s size does leave him vulnerable to physical corners that have the length advantage. A factor that should never be discounted, Dotson stems CBs effectively that are stationed in soft coverage. Jahan completes a solid release foundation with an excellent stutter step to throw a defender’s balance just prior to his breaks.
While we’ll dig a bit more into it later, the role QB Sean Clifford played during Dotson’s career was… let’s just ease the emotions of the initial shock that some might take away from the news by stating that it just wasn’t much in the way of a positive influence. Turning our attention to the precision of Dotson’s routes, another welcomed sight after Burks’ evaluation is that Jahan employs crisp turns into his patterns. His footwork is also several levels ahead of Burks’. Dotson quickly shuts off his momentum to turn into his curls.
If I’m developing plays for Dotson to work in his NFL future, the more opportunities for Jahan to bend and turn through his routes, the better. Corners trying to mirror those angles end up five-or-more yards away, looking relatively silly. Big key for receivers working with Clifford, Dotson provided the plus awareness to alter his route design in response to the coverage. Definitely some of his finest work, Dotson put up some disgusting numbers on post patterns. Many of those posts resulted from attacking the seam, providing additional evidence in favor of moving him into the slot more at the next level.
All told, Dotson may have one of the most complete balances between the NFL route profile he’ll be asked to complete and his ‘21 level of success on those specific patterns in the class. That’s not an attempt to state that his stats were in some way superior, only that he shouldn’t find any roadblocks to an NFL role based on a lack of experience related to his route mechanics.
The trait that stood out the most from Dotson’s tape was his ability to separate. As expected for a kid with 4.43 speed, separating from tight man coverage was not a problem. As alluded to earlier, we did have a few examples of Dotson struggling against length. Not a complete surprise for a young man with 38th-percentile arms. He is definitely equipped with the functional strength to toss most over-aggressive defensive backs out of his path, but scheming some rubs and threats of rubs through Dotson’s routes against those longer corners would be a wise strategy.
Also mentioned earlier, Dotson was so crafty with the delivery of the misdirection on his double moves. If we would’ve seen him engage stacks more aggressively, we’d be considering a grade in the neighborhood of 96-to-98 in the separation category. Would it blow your mind to learn that Dotson could have put up twice as many receiving yards and TDs last season? Before I explain that statement, if you view his ‘21 from a wideview lens, Dotson separates on nearly every single route. A factor that points us toward that explanation and to Jahan’s tracking ability.
For all of the recognition Dotson has received throughout his days of football, tracking Clifford’s throws might be the accomplishment of his career. The only component of Clifford’s game that could be labeled as accurate is in his being wildly inaccurate. So many of Clifford’s throws leave you asking “where is he trying to place that ball?” that those targets to Dotson are pretty much worthless toward evaluating his tracking skill. Jahan was forced to play every throw with the understanding that it could be sent directly down a defender’s midline.
It would not be a stretch to state that half of the effort Dotson put into his ‘21 season was devoted toward making massive adjustments in response to his targeting. So many of the passes to Dotson either forced him to the max of his catch radius or to leap as high as his athleticism could manage. Those throws left him with zero opportunities to work after the catch. The take-home from this category is that Jahan did what he could with what he had, and that his grade in the category suffered from the impoverished quality of his targets.
We’ve evaluated a wideout with god-like talents in departments some people would commit crimes to possess, but that will enter a league with the greatest players in the world with zero effort applied toward catching the ball with his hands. We saw another with a core chiseled out of rock and thighs fashioned from stone that applies the same physicality as your typical punter. And that WR was rather halfhearted in his own efforts to secure throws with his hands half of the time. As we shift towards the analysis of Dotson’s ball skills, you might understand why it was such a beautiful thing watching him rip the ball out of the air with authority… using his hands. And those reliable hands might just stack up to any receiver in this draft class.
Dotson will allow some of his throws to get into his body, but they are isolated to specific routes and not when a defender is within reach. Some of Dotson’s mid-air adjustments to Clifford’s consistently wild throws are incredible, a few where he had to turn a full 360 degrees. We don’t have many examples where a defender goes up with him, but Dotson climbs the ladder to high-point anything in range. He also collected every over-the-shoulder (OTS) throw his hands could reach. One detail from his OTS work that required a subtle, secondary layer of athleticism to account for the vertical placement, Dotson will adjust the speed of his path and then explode through the catch point.
Jahan is much tougher than his size might indicate, showcasing his rock-solid concentration to secure throws through contact. We saw a pattern of keeping a move on standby — many times a spin – to launch into a split second after collecting the throw. And he will engage that move in an instant, forcing defenders to latch on or watch him race out of reach. Dotson is also another example from the class practicing the preemptive sideline awareness to place two feet down.
With the ball in his hands, Dotson calls upon an outstanding jump cut that is capable of displacing his lower half several feet. He is also crafty in the level of contact he will accept, sidestepping direct hits and getting to the ground to avoid damage. Provide Dotson with an opening and watch him run away from the entire defense. Jahan is not built with the center of gravity of a bowling ball, so he’s not a high-powered receiver through contact. Single tacklers can get his lean base to the ground.
Referencing one play in particular, it would be nice to know that Dotson understands he’s not a dynamic enough of an athlete that can get away with reversing the entire field. It was literally impossible to project Dotson’s future across from man coverage due to the erratic nature of Clifford’s throws. But we can take away an assertive belief in Dotson as an impressive force that all Cover 2, 3 and 4 defenses will find difficulty in containing. He has such an instinctual understanding of precisely where to attack those particular schemes.
With regards to Dotson’s improvisational mechanics, his feet never cease from attempting to provide his QB with a target. He brings competent recognition when his QB falls into trouble. Furthermore, he understands his limitations, for example, never using the post-up strategies Drake London masterfully employs from his basketball background. And he knows better than to get vertically-greedy on scramble drills unless it’s clear the defender has made a leverage mistake. Dotson will do everything he can to find an opening and sit. And, with that final tool evaluated, you’ll find the results from each receiving tool category in the table below:
It’s quite obvious that this kid has devoted a major portion of his life to every controllable aspect required toward becoming a top wideout. Dotson offers components to his game that are at a level that cannot simply be taught. The muscle memory alone can only be attained through repeated practice, over a long stretch of time. Jahan can also be labeled as someone who finds the highest level within himself when encountering the biggest of games. Just look at the tape from his last two encounters with Ohio State – which just so happens to be his father’s favorite team.
It’s clear that, if not for Clifford underwhelming on all fronts, Dotson would be drawing far more attention right now than he already has as a potential first-rounder. Don’t be fooled by the three-game stretch last season between Weeks 10-13 when Clifford threw four TDs-to-zero INTs. He should have been picked off at least 10 times. His insanely inaccurate arm consistently targeted Dotson directly into the path of closing safeties. Here’s an insider tidbit toward your 2023 draft prep: start the process by coloring out Sean Clifford’s name with a black marker.
For this season, after Breece Hall, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Drake London and Kenneth Walker III come off the board in your rookie drafts, we will have an important decision to make between the merchant of speed (Jameson Williams) and Dotson. Just don’t make the mistake of using Williams’ age as the deciding factor since his first season will mostly be lost to the rehabilitation of his knee. In superflex formats, it certainly seems that everyone has their own flavor they consider the QB1. My eyes are locked upon Sam Howell at the top but, for the rest, just sub in the name and insert it alongside the decision you’ll need to make between Williams and Dotson.
2021 Video Recommendations: Week 1 at Wisconsin, Week 3 vs. Auburn, Week 5 vs. Indiana, Week 6 at Iowa, Week 9 at Ohio State, Week 10 at Maryland, Week 11 vs. Michigan, Week 12 vs. Rutgers and Week 13 at Michigan State
Optimal Landing Spots: Washington Commanders, Los Angeles Chargers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns
Film Review Comp (2021): Darnell Mooney
Overall Comp (Factoring size, athleticism, tape and level of collegiate production): Sterling Shepard