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How DeSean Jackson influenced Jahan Dotson's skillset

Player comparisons are a regular occurrence for rookies, especially in the weeks after they've been drafted. Fans aren't going to see them in full action until training camp, so looking for similarities with other players helps give them something to look forward to.

Jahan Dotson, who the Washington Commanders took with the No. 16 overall pick in April, went through that kind of judgment not long after he received the call from coach Ron Rivera. Some see a mirror image of Terry McLaurin, while others names that have been thrown out include Steve Smith and Tyler Lockett.

Dotson hasn't given his thoughts on the matter, but we do know which player he paid a lot of attention to as a kid.

"I watched a lot of DeSean Jackson growing up," Dotson said in a sit down with former Washington receiver Santana Moss. "He wasn't very big in stature, but he made it happen."

Jackson, a 15-year veteran who has played for five teams, is another player associated with Dotson, and it makes sense why he was drawn to the three-time Pro Bowler. Jackson played the first six years of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles -- he also returned to the team for two seasons in 2019 and 2020 -- which was around the time that Dotson moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

Washington fans are familiar with what Jackson can do to a defense, because they've seen him use his skillset for and against them. Despite being a smaller receiver (per Pro Football Reference, Jackson is 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds), he continuously finds ways to be productive with his speed and aggressiveness when making contested catches.

Dotson is 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, so he can relate with what the veteran has to do to be impactful.

"That's kind of how I've always been, just trying to make it happen," Dotson said. "You gotta deal with the cards you've been dealt."

Dotson has done a good job of that so far. He holds several Penn State records and wrapped up his college career with 91 receptions for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021.

Rivera is actually the one who first made the comparison between Dotson and Jackson, and the biggest reason for that was the way Dotson "really goes after the football."

"A little bit smaller in stature but plays bigger than that," Rivera said after the Commanders had drafted Dotson. "And that's why we feel pretty comfortable and very confident about it."

There are flashes in Dotson's game that show why he's able to play bigger than his size in a way that's similar to Jackson. In a film breakdown with team analyst Logan Paulsen, Rivera pointed to multiple traits, particularly in his eyes and hand usage.

"Watch the eyes, watch how he catches the ball," Rivera said during the session. "His hand and eye coordination seems together; because as he catches the ball, he is turning with the ball into the end zone and tuck."

As Rivera also pointed out, Dotson isn't afraid to elevate himself to make big time catches, either.

"He gets himself above the man, that way if the guy does jump, he jumps…and elevates him even more. That's what you see right here with Jahan."

Of course, Dotson is just starting his career, so it would be unfair to put the expectations of being a wideout with a career like that of Jackson. However, the comparisons aren't unfounded, and it would seem that watching Jackson all those years did have some influence on the Commanders' new weapon.

If he does inject Washington's offense with even a small dose of that Jackson-esque talent, though, it should make the group fun to watch.

"Can't wait to see what's in store," Dotson said.

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