Skip to main content

News | Washington Commanders -

Jahan Dotson's ability in contested catches has a cool origin story


By now, most Washington Commanders fans are familiar with how Jahan Dotson views contested catches.

"I approach that (ball) as a million dollars," Dotson said after a spectacular one-handed grab against Ohio State in 2020. "It's a million dollars in the air. If you want it, you go get it."

That attitude certainly helped Dotson throughout his college career. In a receiver class that isn't short on talent, Dotson had the lowest drop rate (3.5%) and had the fourth-highest percentage on contested catches (81.3%)

Dotson, who the Commanders drafted with the No. 16 overall pick, said there wasn't anything special about how he developed that skill. It was just a lot of hard work…and a little help from his family.

"Catching the football was always something I…didn't take for granted," Dotson said during his introductory press conference with local media.

Dotson, who grew up in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, is part of a large family. He's one of eight cousins, and he happens to be the youngest. So, as anyone who is the youngest member of their family knows, he had to grow up fast, and he was in the park competing against his cousins at a very young age.

It was through one of those cousins that Dotson learned how to play football when he was about 4 years old, and his cousin had an effective way of teaching him how to catch: for every drop that Dotson had, he would need to do 10 push-ups.

It's a lesson that Dotson still holds onto and thinks about whenever he does have a drop. Not that it happens often, of course; he only had two last season. It's easy to understand why he takes holding on the ball so seriously.

"I got tired of that real quickly," Dotson said with a smile.

Dotson would also practice making catches on his own. He would throw the ball to himself while laying in his room and try to make one-handed grabs. It took years of work and a lot of focus, but fast forward to 2022, and he's being proclaimed as the receiver with "the best hands" in the draft by NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah.

"His route running, here you see he's able to show you that polish at the top of his route, be able to attack that leverage, double moves," Jeremiah said. "We've seen this with a bunch of these wide receivers so far tonight."

That as a contested catcher is exactly what caught Ron Rivera and Martin Mayhew’s eye when evaluating him.

"He's not like the biggest guy, but the 50/50 balls, he has the ability to go up and get those," Mayhew said. "The guy's just got tremendous ball skills."

Rivera said Dotson plays bigger than his 5-foot-11, 178-pound frame, which is why Rivera compared him to DeSean Jackson and Steve Smith.

"He's coming down with it," Rivera said. "I mean, he really is. So you're excited about that."

The Commanders believe Dotson has the skills to help expand their offense, and his catch radius as well as his steady hands are at the center of that. And hopefully he'll keep the number of push-ups to a minimum during his rookie season.

"Little things like that have been with me forever," Dotson said, "and they will stick with me forever."

Related Content