Jahan Dotson’s production for the Washington Commanders may have been a surprise to some, but the first-round pick is not grouped among them.
Dotson, who the Commanders took with the No. 16 overall pick, has stood by his belief that he was made for the NFL, and he has been confident in his abilities can bring a positive impact to the team's offense. He backed up those claims almost every time he stepped on the field.
"I know what I'm capable of," Dotson said in the locker room earlier this week. "I know the hard work I put in, and it just pays off at the end of the day."
Dotson certainly paid back the Commanders' faith in him when they drafted him over players like Treylon Burks, who was ranked higher than him by some draft analysts, by being one of the most productive rookie receivers in the NFL. His 523 receiving yards were third on the team, while his seven receiving touchdowns tied Christian Watson for the most by a first year wideout.
Oh, and by the way, he played in the third-fewest games among all receivers taken in the first round. Now that the 2022 season is over for the Commanders, he and his coaches are pleased with his results.
"The one thing that we saw in Jahan was his ability to get open, especially in space and confined spaces, and then his catch radius and his ability to go after the football," Ron Rivera said after the Commanders' 26-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys. "I think all those things combined is really what's his strength."
Most of Dotson's production came in the red zone, where his quickness, catch radius and ability to create separation at the line of scrimmage were vital tools. He was third in red zone targets (8) on the team but had the best catch rate (75%) among his peers. Five of his seven touchdowns came in the red zone, which also lead the Commanders' skill players.
But there were moments when Dotson showed off other tools in his skill set, including his ability to come down with contested catches and get yards after the catch. Two of the best examples came against the New York Giants, when his spin move in the final minutes of Week 13 helped him score a game-tying touchdown.
Two weeks later, Dotson caught a 61-yard pass over a Giants defender to flip the field.
"He's got a lot of traits like Terry [McLaurin] does in terms of the way he plays, the way he handles himself," Rivera said.
It has been a common trend to compare Dotson to McLaurin, and the two do share certain traits. They both excel at running routes, and they have a knack for coming down with explosive plays.
The stats back it up, too. Dotson had the most receiving yards by a Commanders rookie receiver since McLaurin, who wrapped up his 2019 campaign with 919 yards. Although both fell short of setting the rookie receiving touchdown record for the franchise, each player finished with seven scores in their respective first seasons.
And while McLaurin is clearly the best receiver Washington has had in several years, he was rooting for the rookie to surpass him in the season finale.
"I wanted him to get it," McLaurin said of Dotson breaking the franchise rookie receiving touchdown record. "When we got down to the red zone [against the Cowboys], after that touchdown he ran, I was like, 'Yo, get him that touchdown.'"
It is that kind of support that makes Dotson appreciate playing for Washington.
"I'm super thankful for the guys that are in this room," Dotson said. "They brought me in, just like I'm one of theirs, treated me like a brother."