Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 Draft Targets: Jahan Dotson

Photo by Penn State Athletics

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For all of Brian's 2022 Steelers' Draft Targets, click here: Steelers' 2022 Draft Targets

Continuing with my series on potential draft targets for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2022 NFL Draft, I wanted to stay on the offensive side of the ball.  I started the series off this week talking about quarterback Malik Willis.  While a few mock drafts still have the Steelers taking Willis with the 20th pick, there's a decent chance he could be off the board by the time they select.  Therefore, this time I wanted to talk about someone who is more likely to be available once the Steelers are officially on the clock at pick #20.

It's no secret that the Steelers have had great success drafting wide receivers over the years under General Manager Kevin Colbert.  Over his tenure, Colbert has been responsible for drafting Antwaan Randle El, Santonio Holmes, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool.  While there have been a few duds (*cough* Limas Sweed *cough*), that is still a pretty high success rate over the past two-plus decades.  

There are teams across the league that would kill to have picked that crop of receivers in that timespan.  I mean just think of how much more the New England Patriots could have accomplished with even just one receiver of that caliber from their draft choices in that time frame.

So with this being Colbert's last draft before officially stepping down, I wouldn't be shocked to see him use his last Steelers first-round pick on the position he's had such great success selecting.  While there are a few receivers worthy of a first-round pick in this year's draft, the one most likely to be available at the 20th selection is Penn State's Jahan Dotson.

While it's always difficult for me to talk someone up from the School Out East as a Pitt fan, there's no denying the success Dotson had.  Last season, he tallied 91 catches, 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving him a total of 183 catches, 2,757 yards and 25 touchdowns in his four years at State College.  With those numbers, Dotson would slide into this Steelers unit admirably.  

Standing at 5'11", Dotson is a smaller receiver but one that possesses tremendous speed.  He also ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, ranking him 11th out of all receivers.  That kind of speed highlights why he was also a punt returner for the Nittany Lions.  Another noteworthy part of Dotson's game is his ability to catch the ball.  Last season, he had only two drops on 142 targets.  Given the drops we've seen out of Diontae Johnson and the rest of the receivers over the past few seasons, it would be great to add someone as reliable and sure-handed as Dotson has proven to be.

Aside from what Dotson brings to the table, another reason this choice would make a lot of sense is how dynamic young receivers have been in recent years.  Last year, Ja'Marr Chase had a star-studded rookie season for the Cincinnati Bengals, providing huge contributions for them throughout their run to the Super Bowl.  The year before, Justin Jefferson put up unprecedented numbers for the Minnesota Vikings in his rookie year, and then followed that up with another very strong season last year.  Both of these guys were drafted in the first round and rewarded their teams with spectacular play right out of the gate.  Young receivers are taking the league by storm and proving that if placed in the right environment, they can greatly impact the game.  Dotson could be the next in line, if the Steelers decide to go that route.

Talking about Colbert's history and young receivers succeeding across the league is all well and good, but there is one crucial reason why selecting a receiver makes a lot of sense for the black and gold - positional depth.  In the offseason, the Steelers lost JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and RayRay McCloud to free agency.  Losing three key contributors to last year's passing game has made the current receiving corps extremely thin.  

The depth chart consists of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and the recently signed Gunnar Olszewski as the only guys with real NFL experience.  Plus, Olszewski did most of his work with the New England Patriots as a kick/punt returner.  Therefore, we're looking at only two true NFL receivers on the roster right now.  Dotson would go a long way in adding to this now-depleted unit.

If I were to play Devil's Advocate, there is one main reason why the Steelers might elect to go a different direction with their first pick - the Steelers have found most of their success drafting receivers outside of the first round.  Of the guys mentioned earlier, only Holmes and Claypool were first round selections.  They've had a knack for finding diamonds in the rough on Days 2 and 3 of the draft.  

Not to mention, there are a fair amount of receivers that could be had in the second or third round, such as Georgia's George Pickens, Alabama's John Metchie III and Arkansas' Treylon Burks.  It is a pretty deep receiver class and the Steelers could be hoping to see some of these guys fall, then pounce when the time is right.

All in all, Dotson is the type of receiver that would fit swimmingly into this offense.  His athleticism, speed and ball possession could greatly help a team now lacking a lot of those qualities after some crucial free agency departures.  For a team so thin at the wide receiver position, I think this is certainly the path the Steelers could choose to go.  

I think Malik Willis is still the team's top priority, but General Manager Kevin Colbert has pulled the trigger on taking a receiver early in the draft before and what a way it would be for him to go out, if in his final draft, he did so again one last time.