James Franklin Pushes Support & Praise For Jahan Dotson On Rich Eisen Show
Although Jahan Dotson won’t suit up for Penn State football next fall, the recent first-team All-Big Ten receiver is sure to have his former head coach directly in his corner while competing at the next level.
On Tuesday, James Franklin joined Rich Eisen on his eponymous radio show to discuss Dotson’s upside as a high-profile prospect ahead of the upcoming NFL Draft. Throughout the five-minute interview, Franklin touched on a variety of topics, ranging from Dotson’s comparison to other well-known receivers to the head coach’s short stint with the Green Bay Packers in 2005.
With the NFL Draft set to begin on Thursday, Eisen began the segment by asking the Nittany Lions’ head man about the number of inquiries he’s received from NFL scouts, coaches, and executives leading up to the selection process. According to Franklin, his phone has been busier than usual from receiving around a half dozen calls per week to speak on the behalf of his former players.
“It’s really kind of spread out over a period of time, probably about the last month, I would say between [hearing from] scouts, regional scouts, GMs, [and] head coaches,” Franklin said. “You’ll get some last-minute calls, but for the most part, you know, you’ll get five or six a week.”
Over the course of the NFL offseason, coveted wide receivers across the league have been at the forefront of a free agency frenzy, resulting in newly implemented record-high contracts — similar to the 5-year, $141 million commitment Davante Adams earned from the Las Vegas Raiders. Now, with Adams’ former squad, the Packers, lacking a true No. 1 receiving threat, Eisen asked Franklin about his knowledge regarding Green Bay’s current stance on Dotson.
“I found that [over] the last couple of years, a lot of the predictions that you hear out there, you don’t really hear from [the same teams] close to the draft,” Franklin said. “I don’t know if they’re trying to keep it quiet or not, but obviously we heard from the Packers early in the process, you know, regional scouts and things like that, but nothing here as of recent.”
From there, Franklin briefly mentioned Dotson’s recruiting journey, which resulted in the former four-star product selecting the Nittany Lions over UCLA — a spot where he was previously committed. Based on the Pennsylvania native’s rare skill set in multiple sports including football, basketball, and track, Franklin knew that the speedy threat immediately possessed the qualities to make an instant splash in Happy Valley, despite his undersized frame.
In 2018, Dotson warranted a spot in the Nittany Lions’ receiving rotation right away. Although his services produced just 203 yards on 13 receptions, the shifty pass-catcher shined as a third option to KJ Hamler and Juwan Johnson by competing in eight contests as a true freshman. At that point, Franklin knew Dotson’s ball skills were comparable to some of the high-level household names he previously mentored over his two-plus decades of coaching experience.
“[Dotson] played for us as a true freshman, and obviously was undersized at the time, but he just was so natural catching the ball,” Franklin said. “He’s got as good of ball skills that I’ve been around. I’ve been fortunate that I was the receivers coach of the Green Bay Packers and I had Donald Driver. I coached Torrey Smith in college, [and] I coached Jordan Matthews in college at the time [when he] was the all-time leading receiver in SEC history. I coached Jordy Nelson in college — he played for me at Kansas State, [I coached] Chris Godwin…I could go on and on. I’ve had a bunch of wideouts, and he’s probably the most natural guy I’ve had catching the ball in terms of being able to contort his body.”
Then, Franklin went into how he formerly incorporated Jordy Nelson into his offensive game plans at Kansas State in 2006 and 2007, similarly to how Dotson thrived within Penn State’s system during his most recent campaign. For both seasons in the mid-2000s, Franklin coordinated the Wildcats’ offense that blossomed under Nelson’s ability to torch defensive backs across the middle as a speed-centric burner.
In 2007, Nelson snagged 122 catches for 1,606 yards, but just like Dotson’s senior haul, the overlooked receiver failed to bring home the Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s most dominant pass catcher. The award, which was presented to Michael Crabtree instead of Nelson, hasn’t been hoisted by a Penn State product since Bobby Engram won it in 1996, despite Dotson’s recent 1,182-yard outburst.
“I went [to Kansas State], and Jordy was there, and obviously we had we had a really good player and, we found every way possible to get him the ball,” Franklin said. “And everybody knew he was gonna get the ball, and he still did — kind of very similar to Jahan. So Jahan, everybody knew we were going to get him the ball here, and he just continued to do it week in and week out.”
To finish the conversation, Eisen asked Franklin about his role in having a front-row seat to the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers competition when Rodgers was first drafted in 2005. Despite only spending a lone season in Green Bay, Franklin admitted that it was special to be with the organization during such a unique time in its history.
“I was [in Green Bay] when we drafted Aaron [Rodgers],” Franklin said. I was there with him his entire rookie year. Obviously, Brett [Favre] was our starting quarterback, and Aaron was the backup, and I was able to kind of watch that whole thing. I remember sitting talking about him in the draft room and what we thought about him, so I was fortunate to be with Brett Farve, [it was] not bad. And, I was there with Aaron Rodgers in the beginning of his career to watch that.”
The NFL Draft is set to begin at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. Coverage from Las Vegas will air on ESPN, NFL Network, and ABC for the duration of the three-day event. Currently, Dotson is projected to be a late-first round or early second-round selection across the current array of available mock drafts.
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