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Chiefs Draft Profile: Jahan Dotson gets open and shows off reliable hands

The Penn State wide receiver could complement the Chiefs’ existing receivers well.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Penn State Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas from April 28-30, we're taking a look at some of the players the team could be targeting with their 12 draft picks: Round 1 (29 and 30), Round 2 (50 and 62), Round 3 (94 and 103), Round 4 (121 and 135) and Round 7 (233, 243, 251 and 259).


The Chiefs are in the midst of an overhaul to their wide receiver corps. Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle will all play elsewhere in 2022, while JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are now in the fold — and we shouldn't expect the additions to stop.

With the draft capital Kansas City possesses, you can bet they are looking into the wide receiver position in the draft as early as they end up selecting on Day 1. One receiver projected to be drafted in that range is Jahan Dotson from Penn State.

Here's more on a potential draft target for the Chiefs:

Background

Dotson committed to Penn State as a four-star recruit from Pennsylvania, leading to a four-year college career that totaled 183 receptions, 2,757 yards and 27 total touchdowns. He was the eighth-most targeted player in the FBS last season.

At the NFL Combine, he measured in at 5 feet 11 and 178 pounds, with a 22nd-percentile wingspan and a 59th-percentile hand size for wide receivers. He recorded a 4.43-second 40-yard dash time, then added a 36-inch vertical leap and 10'1" broad jump — which were 57th and 52nd in positional percentile, respectively.

College film evaluation

In 2021, Dotson played nearly 76% of his snaps as an outside receiver — with the rest coming in a slot alignment. For the most part, he lined up off the line of scrimmage, avoiding on-the-line press coverage and was frequently moved around the formation with pre-snap motion.

As mentioned before, Dotson was one of college football's most targeted receivers in 2021 — and it's because he knows how to get open. He shows a good feel for maneuvering zone coverage to find the right throwing window in this clip, continuously moving out of his route break to get away from defenders and into a place where his quarterback can see him clearly.

He also has the physical abilities to create separation on hard-breaking routes, with quick feet that allow him to put defenders in a pretzel before bursting into open space.

He excels in those moments as long as he stays away from contact; if a cornerback can get hands on him from the snap, he struggles to get out of those and back into his route.

Those quick-footed attributes that allow him to get open and create separation didn't come through in his three-cone drill: he had a 7.28-second result, which is in the ninth percentile for wide receivers at the NFL Combine. A definite point of concern.

That said, his top speed in open space does match the impressive 4.41-second result he put up in the 40-yard dash.

Unfortunately, he wasn't always able to show it off in college as much as he could have. In this clip, you see two well-run post routes that end with him running away from the defense's deepest coverage defender — but two inaccurate passes negate two possible touchdowns.

The threat of his speed can be felt by defenders trying to stay on top of him in deep coverage. He presses them, keeps them on their heels, and then uses their momentum to create separation on comeback routes. Whether it's reacting to the quarterback's scramble or running a double move, Dotson consistently created space on these routes that gave his quarterback an easier throw towards the sideline.

On that first sideline opportunity, Dotson makes a noticeably-impressive catch — and the statistics back up the rep: in 2021, he dropped two of 137 targets — a rate of 2.2%, which was the second-lowest percentage of the 52 FBS wide receivers that saw 100 or more targets.

How he fits with the Chiefs

Penn State v Wisconsin Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

If Dotson were to enter the fold in Kansas City, his play style would complement the receiving skillsets of the rest of the receiving corps immediately — including tight end Travis Kelce. He is an off-ball receiver — in the slot or on the perimeter — who can get open against secondary coverage at all levels of the field, and provide trustworthy hands for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to trust in tight windows or sideline throws.

That said, Dotson shouldn't be penciled into a complementary role for his career — and one indicator that he could be more than that is his willingness to attack the ball in the air no matter the circumstance.

He has an incredible catch radius for his size, which, combined with his ability to separate, become a nearly impossible target to miss. When you factor in that he'd have the best quarterback in football throwing him the rock, Dotson could develop into a heavily-targeted receiver that racks up statistics like he did in 2021 at Penn State.

The bottom line

Dotson is one of the receivers projected to be drafted in the late stages of the first round; he may not even make it to pick 29 and 30. There are many teams from picks 20 to 28 that could use his services.

The 2022 Chiefs may need other positions more than a pass-catcher, but Dotson's presence would immediately raise the level of play they've had from the second or third wide receiver last season — which leads to a more diverse, unpredictable passing attack.

No matter what, I'm confident Dotson would be a worthy selection for the team's long-term vision. Players that know how to get open and consistently catch the ball will always be good to surround Patrick Mahomes with, and I believe Dotson will do both of those at the level of an NFL starter; his play reminds me of Emmanuel Sanders.