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'I think he has a chance to help us a lot': Jahan Dotson has left a strong impression on Terry McLaurin

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Terry McLaurin didn't know it at the time, but Washington Commanders' first-round pick Jahan Dotson impressed him long before he ever suited up for the Burgundy & Gold. 

By now, most Washington fans know about the one-handed snag Dotson had against Ohio State, and since McLaurin is a former Buckeye, he's more familiar with the touchdown than most. As someone who excels at making contested catches at the NFL level, the play from Dotson earned a hat tip from the Commanders' wideout. 

Years later, McLaurin got to see those skills in person during a player-run workout in California, and the two-time captain was impressed once again. He saw the crisp route running, the wide catch radius and most importantly, the ability to make game-changing plays. 

Dotson has already shown tastes of that impact during OTAs and the first two days of training camp, and McLaurin said there's a reason why making those more difficult catches comes easy to Dotson. 

"When you're a sure-handed guy like he is and has been up until this point, he has a lot of confidence when the ball does get into his vicinity," McLaurin said.

The defense stood out during the second day of the Washington Commanders' training camp. Check out the top shots from Thursday's practice. (Emilee Fails and Kourtney Carroll/Washington Commanders)

Of all the things that McLaurin noticed about Dotson's skill set during the California workout organized by Carson Wentz, his natural ability to make catches was what he listed first. Anyone who has watched Dotson since June would confirm that notion; Dotson has "a very business-like approach," McLaurin said, and it's clear he handles himself like a professional.

Dotson has been developing trust in his hands since he was a kid, when he was throwing footballs in his room to avoid doing extra pushups for his cousin for every dropped pass.

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

The extra dedication has paid off throughout Dotson's career. He had one of the lowest drop rates in the 2022 draft class, and that has certainly carried over to the NFL level. The most recent example of that came during Thursday's practice, when he hauled in a sideline throw with Benjamin St-Juste providing tight coverage.

There are several reasons why that play was impressive to McLaurin, all of which circle back to Dotson's confidence in his hands.

"I think what he did great on that a lot of receivers may fade away a little bit and let the ball get caught inside," McLaurin said. "And it gives the DB a chance to get his hand in there. But when you trust your hands like he does, he kept the defensive back in between him and the ball and he caught it on his outside shoulder."

Dotson had what McLaurin referred to as "good late hands," which is a tough skill to master.

"I'm still working on that skill a little bit as well," McLaurin said. "The more you improve and the more you go against these great defensive backs in the league, you have to use little subtle things like that to keep them away from getting their hands in on the ball."

Dotson has looked impressive this offseason, although he is still weeks away from putting his skills on display in a game that counts, and he still has much to learn. That's where having McLaurin comes in handy. Even though McLaurin is just 26 years old, he's been a mentor for the Commanders' current and former wideouts.

"If I can do anything that I can to share my wisdom, to share what I've learned from this game, to try to be infectious with my personality, with my confidence, with my competitiveness, I think that that breeds a stronger room," McLaurin said. "It breeds a healthy room to where guys know they could trust you."

Dotson is already off to a strong start when it comes to preparing for the NFL. McLaurin has seen it firsthand, and he knows the rookie will continue to improve.

He intends on doing whatever he can to help streamline that process.

"I just wanna continue to encourage him to be himself, help continue to hone in on his skills, take the coaching really well, which he already does," McLaurin said. "I think he has a chance to help us a lot."

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