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Jahan Dotson’s Speed & Strength Outweigh Size Concerns Ahead Of 2022 NFL Draft

Jahan Dotson came to Penn State as a highly-talented four-star recruit in 2018, and the hopes were high for Dotson to turn into one of James Franklin’s best wide receivers. Now, as he prepares to enter the 2022 NFL Draft as a top option at wide receiver, it’s clear Dotson made the most of his college career.

The Nazareth, Pennsylvania, native made his college debut against Kent State in 2018 as a true freshman. After starting the season toward the bottom of the depth chart, Dotson didn’t see much action until Penn State’s 30-24 victory over No. 18 Iowa in which he caught two passes for 25 yards. He then earned his first career start in the team’s 22-10 victory over Wisconsin, becoming the first true freshman receiver to start since Saeed Blacknall in 2014. He finished the 2018 campaign with 13 catches for 203 yards, playing in eight games and starting in four.

Heading into the 2019 season, Dotson beat out the other receivers in camp and earned a top spot on the depth chart, starting alongside KJ Hamler and Justin Shorter. Following a quiet season debut against Idaho, Dotson turned heads in the team’s victory over Buffalo, hauling in four catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns to later be named Penn State’s offensive player of the week. He followed that up with another explosive performance against Purdue just two weeks later when he hauled in two catches for 79 yards, including an impressive 72-yard touchdown.

His 27 receptions for 488 yards finished the season ranked No. 5 in the Big Ten in yards per reception (18.07). After finishing a solid 2019 campaign, Dotson flourished into a Penn State legend.

Dotson began the 2020 campaign with an impressive performance against Indiana, recording four catches for 94 yards and a massive 60-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. The next week against Ohio State, Dotson gained national attention in arguably the best performance of the season. Tallying eight catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns, Dotson hauled in one of the best catches of the season in a crowd-less Beaver Stadium.

Dotson showed no signs of slowing down after that game, as he caught nine passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in the following week against Maryland. Despite Penn State’s historically poor start to the 2020 season, Dotson served as a major bright spot.

Before his dominant performance in the team’s loss to Iowa, Dotson was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list. The honor, presented annually, recognizes the top receiver in college football.

As if he wasn’t a good enough receiver already, Dotson also received attention when he became one of Penn State’s punt returners midway through the season. He recorded an electric punt return for a touchdown in the team’s victory over Michigan State, which earned him a Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week accolade.

He finished the season earning honorable mention All-America honors from Phil Steele, honorable mention All-Big Ten as a punt returner by coaches and media, and All-Big Ten second-team honors from Phil Steele and Pro Football Focus. His 884 receiving yards led the Big Ten, while his four catches for 60-plus yards finished tied for first in the nation.

After announcing to stay at Penn State for his senior season, Dotson put up the most dominant campaign of his career in Happy Valley. Before the season even started, Dotson was already named a Biletnikoff Award candidate and Big Ten East preseason honoree, and he definitely lived up to the hype.

Dotson was pivotal in Penn State’s first victory of the 2021 season over No. 12 Wisconsin, breaking the game open with a 49-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Two weeks later, Dotson recorded a career-high 10 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown in the team’s White Out victory over No. 22 Auburn. He even completed his first career pass through a 22-yard lob to tight end Tyler Warren.

After being all over college football highlight reels during the first four weeks of the season, Mel Kiper Jr. ranked Dotson No. 8 overall and the top receiver in the class on his top-25 big board.

The Pennsylvania native once again delivered another dominant performance against Ohio State, raking in 11 passes for 127 yards and a rushing touchdown. He then followed that up with the best performance of his career against Maryland when he caught 11 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns, setting the Penn State single-game receiving yardage record.

Before opting out of the Outback Bowl, Dotson finished his Penn State career with a bang, catching eight passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns in snow-covered East Lansing. He ended the season with an impressive 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning Penn State’s 2021 team MVP award and AP Third-Team All-American honors.

As the NFL Draft rapidly approaches, Dotson’s stock remains solid as a potential first-round pick, but teams might be worried about his smaller size compared to other receivers in the class. The list of positive takeaways for Dotsons draft stock heavily outweighs the negatives, though.

Some scouts believe that Dotson is a superb route-runner who wins with his speed and consistently creates yards after the catch due to his agility. Additionally, he has some of the best hands in the draft and a wide catching range despite his small stature, which he showcased well during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine.

Dotson continued to turn heads at Penn State’s Pro Day, where he recorded 15 reps at the bench press, which would have finished as the second-most among receivers at this year’s NFL Combine. He didn’t drop a single pass during his individual session, either.

Following the workouts, Dotson mentioned that one of his goals was to prove that his small size doesn’t have an impact on his ability to compete in the NFL.

“People talk about me having trouble in my game because I’m such a small stature,” Dotson said following Penn State’s Pro Day. “So, I definitely wanted to prove that I’m a strong guy and can compete with the best.”

Currently, most NFL analysts have Dotson going as a late first-round pick, with CBS Sports even predicting that he will fall as low as No. 49 overall. Despite the concern about his size, Dotson still believes that he is the best in his position ahead of the draft.

“I truly believe that I am the best receiver in the draft,” he said after Penn State’s Pro Day. “I’m right up there with the top guys. My film proves that. I feel like every time I step on this field, I play like I’m one of the best, and I feel like I am one of the best.”

No matter when he’s drafted, Dotson should have little trouble competing in the NFL thanks to his proven strength, speed, and agility. The Pennsylvania native consistently came through on some of college football’s biggest stages. Wherever he lands, Dotson will likely terrorize opposing red zone defenses on Sundays.

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About the Author

Frankie Marzano

Frankie is a senior accounting and economics major from Long Island, NY. You can probably recognize him as the typical Italian-American with slicked back black hair. He is an avid fan of the New York Rangers and Mets, along with every Penn State Athletics team. Follow him on Twitter @frankiemarzano for obnoxious amounts of Rangers and Penn State content or email him at frankie@onwardstate.com.

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