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Raiders Draft: Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State scouting report

Strengths, weaknesses and film clips for potential Raiders WR target

Penn State v Maryland
Jahan Dotson
Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders are in need of a wide receiver that can stretch the field and Jahan Dotson from Penn State has the speed and ball tacking to fill that void. He’ll be at the Senior Bowl in a couple of weeks to prepare for the NFL Draft.

WR | Penn State | 5’11” 184 pounds | Nazareth, PA | March 3rd, 2000 (21.8)

Overview:

Jahan Dotson came to Penn State as a four-star recruit and the No. 36 wide receiver in the 2018 class, per 247 Sports. Towards the end of his freshman season, he earned a starting spot and held onto it ever since, racking up 183 catches for 2,757 and 25 touchdowns in State College. The Nazareth native was primarily used as a deep threat by the Nittany Lions, due to his speed, ball tacking and excellent hands, but his size is concerning and he has room for growth with his releases.

Strengths:

  • Against press coverage, he has active hands and a decent hand swipe move to beat weaker cornerbacks
  • Explosive off the line of scrimmage on vertical routes to eat cushion against off coverage
  • He attacks blind spots and leverage during the stem phase of the route and uses a good jab step(s) at the top to help create separation
  • When running slants, he shows nice head fakes and stutter steps to manipulate and shake defensive backs, and he recognizes when he can and cannot use longer releases
  • Recognizes and slows down in windows against zone coverage
  • On intermediate 90-degree or more routes, he sells the vertical threat really well by keeping his shoulders down and, combined with his speed, forces safeties to play deep
  • Solid change of direction overall that’s better on 45-degree routes because he doesn’t have to slow down as much to make the turn, and he incorporates the jab step well on those routes to get the defensive back to open his hips.
  • He runs his ins sharper than his outs, he doesn’t drift as much after cutting and could develop an effective speed cut on ins down the line
  • Has good suddenness on curls, he just drifts after turning
  • On vertical routes, he has the speed to run by corners and has impressive ball tracking to put himself in a good position to beat defenders
  • He can be deadly on in-n-up routes, he sells the in with his head and shoulders and has the suddenness and burst to capitalize when defenders bite on the first move
  • Good at adjusting his body to put himself in a good position to make contested catches and haul in inaccurate passes
  • Very natural, strong and plucky hands, he can snag the ball out of the air and has no issues making catches away from his body
  • Tucks the ball away and braces for contact immediately after securing the catch, making it harder for defenders to force incompletions with a big hit
  • Good body control and sideline awareness to drag his feet

Areas of Improvement:

  • Below average size for an NFL wide receiver
  • He’s a long-strider and doesn’t take quick choppy steps to beat press coverage with his feet— he’ll hop off the line of scrimmage instead of using foot fire
  • Lacks the strength to beat physical corners and will get widened to the sideline on his release
  • Needs to do a better job of recognizing when the defender in front of him blitzes as the hot read to snap his head around and look for the ball faster
  • After passing corners on vertical routes, he doesn’t stack them to give the quarterback more room to throw
  • Not particularly explosive out of his cuts at the top of single-move routes, he could develop a better second gear
  • Especially on outs and curls, he drifts too much after cutting. He’s gotten better about this on his ins but still has room for growth
  • Isn’t much of a red zone threat as he isn’t a great separator on short and immediate routes — besides slants — and lacks the size and doesn’t have the vertical to make up for it to be relied on, on contested catches
  • Isn’t immune to concentration drops on short drags
  • Not very elusive or shifty after the catch to make defenders miss
  • He will go down on first contact and isn’t really a guy you can use on screens or can expect him to create YAC on short routes
Penn State v Maryland
Jahan Dotson
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

Injuries

He suffered a compound leg fracture in high school.

Projection:

NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board rank: 32nd

A lot of people are higher on Dotson than I am. To me, he fits more into the second- or third-round category as I worry that he can only be effective on intermediate and deep routes, given his limited yards after catch skills and ineffectiveness in the red zone. That being said, there aren’t going to be many speed demons who can track the ball and catch it as he can. The Nittany Lion would be an excellent fit as a ‘Z’ or off the line of scrimmage outside receiver, or as a slot that forces safeties to play deep.

What do we need to know?

Can his footwork against press coverage improve and will he be able to develop a speed cut? Dotson already has active hands and the speed to beat cornerbacks off the line of scrimmage, but he’ll struggle against NFL technicians if his footwork doesn’t improve, which is imperative for deep threats. He’ll add to his route tree if his change of direction gets cleaned up and that’ll allow him to do damage in other areas of the field.

Fit with the Raiders:

As mentioned above, Las Vegas has been in need of a wideout that can take the top off a defense ever since Henry Ruggs’ release. Dotson can certainly be that guy, however, he won’t replace Ruggs’ 4.2-speed — nobody might — and isn’t as complete of a receiver as Ruggs was coming out of college. So, if the Raiders are looking for a “No. 1 wide receiver”, they should probably look elsewhere, but if they just want someone in the rotation to keep safeties deep, Dotson will be on the table.

Clips: