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What grades did Washington get for Jahan Dotson?

Was this the right move?

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NCAA Football: Penn State at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There is a long tradition of people giving draft picks a grade less than 24 hours after they’ve been made. Some of them are spot on after the players have shown who they are after a few years in the league, and some of them look pretty bad. A lot of graders get stuck on their personal rankings, and will tank a player’s selection because of that. How a player fits with a team, and their needs plays a big part here as well.

Washington was able to pull off the first trade of the day. There wasn’t much interest in trading up into the Top 10, but once it got to #11 the trades started flying. Martin Mayhew moved down to #16 and picked up a 3rd and 4th round pick. They picked up valuable mid-round picks, but also gave up the opportunity to get WRs Jameson Williams and Chris Olave, along with Kyle Hamilton. Mayhew said sometimes they get linked to players that they’re just not that into.

A player they were into, and likely had rated higher than most other players was Penn State WR Jahan Dotson who they took with the 16th overall pick. Mayhew said they had trade offers from at least 3 other teams to drop to the 20’s and 30’s, but felt that would be too late to draft Dotson or other players they had rated as highly as him. A lot of people had Dotson as a later first, early second round player, and that’s where he expected to go. Washington disagreed with that assessment and now he will be working with Terry McLaurin and (hopefully) Curtis Samuel to catch passes from Carson Wentz.

How did Washington do on Day 1? What do they need to address on Day 2?

For the Win(B+)

Dotson is less a complimentary part of an offense, and more the engine that makes the entire operation hum along perfectly. I firmly believe he’ll be a 90-catch player within a year or two. That makes this a great pick for the Commanders, who can pair the former Nittany Lion with “Scary” Terry McLaurin. Carson Wentz would have to be terribly incompetent, completely out of control (very possible!) to mess up a receiver duo like this. Dotson would produce with anyone. This is a gift.

Hogs Haven(B)

Bleacher Report(B)

Strengths: Slippery and explosive throughout route tree, larger-than-expected catch radius, creative after the catch

Weaknesses: Small stature/lacks length, suspect play strength

Jahan Dotson’s size shouldn’t fool anyone, because he plays much bigger than his 5’11”, 178-pound frame indicates.

“When I get the ball in my hands, it’s exciting,” he told reporters at the NFL combine. “I’m very fast. I can take the top off defenses.”

For some, where he lines up may be in question. His stature doesn’t automatically equate to him being a slot receiver, though.

First, Dotson isn’t a slouch in the speed department. The first-team All-Big Ten performer posted a 4.43-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine to work down the field and outside the numbers. Second, only 16.4 percent of his snaps came from the slot, according to Pro Football Focus’ Austin Gayle.

Maybe the most impressive aspect of Dotson’s skill set is how he battles to make catches outside of his frame. Despite 30¾-inch arms, he can go up and pluck the ball out of the air. His 36-inch vertical jump helps in these situations.

Granted, Dotson shouldn’t be viewed as a traditional X-receiver with the physical tools to dominate defenders. But he’s a creative playmaker when asked to work in space and allowed to go and get the ball. In today’s game, that kind of player is extremely important to any offense.

The Washington Commanders are now building around quarterback Carson Wentz. The commitment to the quarterback comes with an investment in the passing game to make sure he succeeds.

Washington isn’t on the best terms at the moment with its star wide receiver Terry McLaurin. But Dotson’s selection should have no bearing whatsoever on McLaurin’s status because the two should complement each other well.

A healthy Curtis Samuel can work from the slot and over the middle of the field while McLaurin and Dotson are found outside the numbers.

Overall, the Commanders are more explosive in an attempt to improve upon a bottom-half-of-the-league passing attack.

Washington smartly grabbed late-third- and early-fourth-round picks (Nos. 98 and 120) from New Orleans to move down five spots in Round 1. With the run on receivers beginning with the Jets at No. 10, the Commanders ended up with Dotson to fill a need on the outside. Dotson’s not a big, physical receiver, but his hands are outstanding, and he really performed well for a Nittany Lions offense lacking explosiveness when he wasn’t getting the ball. I’ll be interested to see if Dotson becomes an elite receiver or if this proves to be a reach — with Washington selecting him after four receivers came off the board in the first 12 picks.

The Athletic(B)

Dotson (5-foot-11, 178) started 38 games for the Nittany Lions and was prolific last year with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. He ran a 4.43 and showed on film that he can separate — whether lined up on the outside or in the slot.

Dotson catches everything, is fearless in the middle of the field and has outstanding awareness and instincts. He doesn’t make a lot of people miss with the ball in his hands, and at 178 pounds, his play strength in the NFL is a question. But Dotson profiles as one of the wide receivers from this class who should be able to contribute right away.

Washington traded back from 11 to 16, picked up a third- and a fourth-round pick and landed a talented wide receiver prospect. Nice job by them.

CBS Sports(B)

They trade back and land a receiver who will give them more juice in the passing game. They needed to help Carson Wentz and Dotson will give them another speed player. Landing the extra picks and getting a a good receiver makes this a good move.

Fox Sports(B)

Like the aforementioned Green, Dotson was a bit of a surprise coming off the board this high, but the fit in Washington is a clean one. His savviness as a route runner, along with terrific straight-line speed and sticky hands make him a Tyler Lockett clone. Teams won't be able to double up Terry McLaurin any longer and with Logan Thomas and Antonio Gibson also talented pass-catchers, new quarterback Carson Wentz has the weapons needed to succeed.

Draft Kings Nation(B)

Washington has been linked to many wide receivers, so this isn’t a surprise, but taking Dotson over Treylon Burks is a little interesting.

Sporting News(B)

The Commanders took a circuitous route to getting their deep threat complement to Terry McLaurin, knowing Carson Wentz operates best when having that type of player outside. It might seem a little forced after choosing to stay put and take either Olave or Williams, but Dotson’s speed and quickness was definitely a missing offensive element for Scott Turner.

The Commanders moved down five spots and missed out on Chris Olave and Jameson Williams. They went and got the next-best receiver left in Dotson, who is very good. This feels like a slight reach, but I like Dotson and he and Terry McLaurin could be fun together.

Yahoo Sports(C+)

They did a lot of work on Drake London and the Ohio State receivers, yet they pivoted to Dotson, who went a touch higher than we imagined. Still, with the receivers flying off the board, the Commanders couldn’t afford to get cute. Dotson catches everything and has deep speed from inside or out. He has very good potential early on — if Washington can salvage Carson Wentz.

The Ringer(C+)

The Commanders picked up a pair of picks (98 and 120) in trading down from 11 to 16, but there’s a substantial drop-off in overall talent in going from Chris Olave (my 16th-ranked player) to Jahan Dotson (my 32nd-ranked player). Plus, Treylon Burks (my 15th-ranked player) was still on the board. Dotson can line up all over the formation, but there are legit questions around the former Penn State star’s size (178 pounds), and he doesn’t bring the same field-stretching speed as Olave. I like Dotson, but this is a bit rich even with the trade-back.

Draft Wire(C+)

The early run on wide receivers continues, as Washington moves back five spots before taking a Dotson. A well-rounded pass-catcher who plays bigger than his size, Dotson is a big-play machine, both after the catch and with the deep ball. This is earlier than expected for Dotson, and seeing him go ahead of Treylon Burks is curious, but giving Carson Wentz another dynamic weapon always made sense as their top priority in this draft.


Trade Grade: Saints: B- | Commanders: B+Pick Grade: C+Jahan Dotson is solid. He’ll be a nice addition to a WR corps that includes Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown. Personally, I would’ve gone with Treylon Burks, but Washington deserves credit for moving back, getting their guy, and picking up a few picks in the process. Carson Wentz is smiling somewhere.


The Commanders had only one receiver (Terry McLaurin) with 400-plus yards last season and will benefit from adding a talented receiver like Dotson. Creating separation with his nuanced route-running and quickness, Dotson has outstanding hands and is elusive in the open field even though he won’t break a lot of tackles. Dotson adds value as a punt returner and finished his final season at Penn State with 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns. Dotson was 28th-ranked player overall.

Walter Football(C)

Much like the Texans, the Redskins deserve some credit for picking up resources for trading down. Still, this is a bit of a reach. It’s not as bad as the Texans’ pick, but there was some speculation that Jahan Dotson could fall out of the first round. The Redskins should’ve just remained at No. 11 and picked the much better prospect. I like Dotson, but he’s a bit short to be taken so early.


The night started off well enough for Washington with a smart trade in which they received picks #16, #98, and #120 in exchange for #11. However, they proceeded to reach on a receiver in Jahan Dotson at #16 and I have a bad feeling they will convince themselves Terry McLaurin is expendable because of Dotson’s presence on the roster. Dotson has some great qualities as a three-level threat with suddenness in and out of his breaks. He’s also an excellent YAC player. However, he struggled against press coverage and had just a 41.7% contested-catch rate last year with only five total contested catches per PFF. He’s also already 22 years old and didn’t break out until his junior year. His college yards per reception of 13.0 ranked in the 26th percentile per PlayerProfiler.

I had Dotson as my 51st-ranked prospect overall and the Athletic consensus media big board had him at #31. I have George Pickens and Skyy Moore ranked higher, both of whom are still available. The Commanders had more pressing needs than receivers, and I don’t understand why they felt pressured to reach on the position with that pick.

Pro Football Focus(Below Average)

The Commanders were able to pick up some extra draft capital in their move back with the Saints, but this is still a bit rich for Dotson (56th overall on PFF’s Big Board). The biggest concern with Dotson is that he doesn’t have the prototypical size that you want for an outside receiver, but he’s a reliable route runner with some of the best hands in the draft class. He should be a nice complement to Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown, even if this is a bit before he was expected to come off the board.

Pro Football Network(D-)

During an already chaotic period of the first round, the Washington Commanders quietly made a surprise pick. Washington selected Penn State WR Jahan Dotson at No. 16, the pick they received after trading down with the New Orleans Saints. The Commanders received pick Nos. 16, 98, and 120 from New Orleans in exchange for pick No. 11.