Format for the Rookie WR Review:
Pre-Draft Recap: Run through my scouting evaluation
NFL Film Breakdown: View how the athlete performs against NFL competition
Post-Rookie Re-Grade: Use Film Grading to calculate the trajectory of his NFL career
I was lower than the NFL on Jahan Dotson, who was surprisingly drafted 16th overall. Had him as a 2nd round pick (sub 80.0 Film Grade) and a complementary wide receiver. My primary hesitation with Dotson was a lack of Physicality. He was easily walled off during his routes, and I graded his Physicality/Hand Fighting as 1.5/5.0 - anything under 2.0 significantly affects the overall score, so Dotson was kept just beyond the 80.0 range.
I was also unimpressed by his after the catch ability. He was very easy to tackle, and I thought his creativity was overrated.
While I stand by my initial overall diagnosis regarding the type of player Dotson was - Brandon Lloyd comp, finesse player with A+ ball skills - his rookie film highlighted how not all players need Physicality to succeed.
While you can find a few examples of Jahan Dotson struggling to get off the press, he usually performed well in this category. Dotson is similar to Devonta Smith in this manner. He doesn't need to be a bully. He's intelligent enough and quick enough to avoid contact altogether. Watch how he works this Cover 2 CB. Sets up outside, then lightning flash inside and back out to re-stack. Excellent coverage recognition and ability to find his appropriate schematic fit for the play.
This kind of stuff happens occasionally, but it's really not a big deal. His coverage diagnosis skill is typically good and he frequently makes himself available.
Here Dotson ID's zone coverage and slides away from the underneath linebacker as he comes out of his curl. Most young receivers would turn and let the LB flow in front of them before recognizing the need to move. Dotson does it immediately, providing consistent availability for the quarterback. Truly mature awareness.
Dotson's footwork is classically efficient. He slams on the brakes with ease and he does not waste any steps at the top of his route. He wins the one-on-one here, generating enough separation on a curl to add yards after catch and earn the first down. The Titans could not ask Treylon Burks to do this with any reliability. They would have to put him in motion or run him across the formation. Dotson's route running ability gives Bieniemy so much schematic versatility.
Dotson's showed plenty of manipulative skill at Penn State. He had no problem translating his ability against the NFL caliber. In this play, the CB disguises zone pre-snap, then flips outside to play man. Dotson pushes further outside to sell a fade before ripping back inside on the dig route. Smooth operation and on-the-fly adjusting by the rookie.
On this corner TD, Dotson stems outside to square up his DB. This helps him pause the DB before working outside to the open space in the endzone.
The route is excellent, but the main takeaway is Dotson's decision making. There's no specific rule or clue indicating that Dotson should work outside to isolate this cornerback. He could have assumed that the Cowboys were playing head-up man and made the inside DB his target instead. Dotson is taking initiative here. He understands that the Cowboys want to Banjo this offensive look ("Banjo" is a term for DBs playing outside-inside match rather than locking on to a receiver). If Dotson worked to the inside DB first, the outside DB could have easily walled him off of the corner route and eliminated him from the play. By moving to attack the body of the outside DB, Dotson keeps his target area open. He prevents the defense from sealing the edge, and steals a touchdown instead.