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Dotson ready to add his skills to Commanders offense

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Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) hauls in a touchdown pass in front of Buffalo cornerback Aapri Washington (3) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

Jahan Dotson was watching the Phoenix Suns play the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA playoffs when his phone rang.

Dotson, who had no idea who was on the clock during the 2022 NFL Draft, didn't recognize the number, but he knew he had to take a chance and answer the call. It was Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, and he wanted to let Dotson know that he was going to join the Washington Commanders.

"Honestly, I was left speechless," Dotson told local media. "I couldn't believe it. It's pretty much all I've been working for all my life."

After trading back from the 11th overall pick, the Commanders used the 16th overall pick to take Penn State’s No. 1 offensive weapon in 2021. Rivera went into the draft with the mantra of providing Carson Wentz with another playmaker. He can now check that off the list.

And it sounds like Dotson is anxious to add his talents to the Commanders' receiving corps.

"I'm excited for the moment and ready to get to work."

There's a lot about Dotson's skillset that points to him being an ideal fit among the Commanders' pass-catchers. He's a smooth route-runner with quick feet and the ability to make athletic catches (consider his one-handed grab against Ohio State in 2020 as Exhibit A).

What's more, he might have one of the best mindsets about making contested catches.

"I approach that (ball) as a million dollars," he said after his 2020 performance against the Buckeyes. "It's a million dollars in the air. If you want it, you go get it."

Dotson's hands (he had a career drop rate at Penn State of just 3.5%) are among the best in this year's draft class, and that paid dividends for the Nittany Lions when they used him as a deep threat. He never dropped a pass of at least 20 yards on 54 targets, and he was a standout on touchdowns of at least 20 yards.

"Finesse wideout with good speed and great athleticism who is fully operational on all three levels of the field," wrote NFL.com's Lance Zierlein. "Dotson's passing scheme was well-designed and allowed for clear access to space for most of the season. His route-running is smooth but features speed changes and his in-air athleticism and ball skills look effortless."

However, of all the tools he possesses, Dotson's versatility is one he values the most. When asked whether he considers himself an outside or inside receiver, Dotson replied "both."

"That's one thing that I feel like is one of my biggest traits in my game is my versatility," Dotson said. "To be able to play anywhere, be able to play inside, play outside. So I'm excited for the opportunity."

It's good that Dotson wants to play wherever the coaches decide to put him, but there's a strong possibility offensive coordinator Scott Turner is going to move him around the field often. Turner likes to put his players in the best position to succeed, and since he has the ability to play at any spot, that means he'll be used in a variety of ways next season.

That's a lot to put on a rookie, but fortunately for Dotson, he has a veteran in Terry McLaurin to lean on as he learns the offense. He's already familiar with the Commanders' No. 1 pass-catcher, calling him ​​"one of the most underrated receivers in the league."

"I feel like we complement each other very well," Dotson said. "I feel like he's someone who can play inside and outside and has a lot of versatility in his game. And I feel like whether he's playing outside and I'm playing inside or I'm playing outside, he's playing inside, we can complement each other like that."

It might have been a surprise to Dotson when he got picked earlier than he expected, but he's thrilled to be part of an offensive that features McLaurin and Wentz among several other young players. Rivera has a vision for the third year of his tenure that involves the team taking a step forward.

Dotson will play a role in making that happen.

"Little kids dream of this moment, and a lot of people don't get to achieve it," Dotson said. "So, to be able to sit here and really say that I was the first-round pick to play for the Washington Commanders is a dream come true."

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