Washington Commanders trade back in NFL Draft, take WR Jahan Dotson No. 16 overall

Penn State wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) lines up against Ball State during an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Sept.11, 2021. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

The Washington Commanders moved from the 11th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to No. 16, selecting Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson as the first player drafted by the franchise under its new moniker.

Washington dealt the 11th pick to New Orleans in exchange for the 16th overall pick, a third-round pick (98th overall) and a fourth-rounder (120th overall).

Dotson had 91 catches for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns during his senior season with the Nittany Lions. The 5-foot-11 Dotson wound up with 183 catches for 2,757 and 25 TDs in four years at Penn State.

Dotson, 22, gives new quarterback Carson Wentz another target and provides the Commanders offense with a slot receiver to pair with top wideout Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. Dotson was the fifth receiver taken after Drake London, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams.

Coach Ron Rivera said Dotson is a “polished receiver right now who’s ready to go.”

“We want to make sure there are weapons around Carson,” Rivera said. “We’re going to put him on the field an awful lot.”

Olave was available for the Commanders with the 11th pick, but they traded down with New Orleans, who took the Ohio State product amid a run of receivers.


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The trade for the 98th and 120th picks allowed Rivera to recoup some assets after giving up a third-rounder in the deal to acquire Wentz from Indianapolis.

Dotson wasn’t expecting to go so high and was busy watching the NBA playoff game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns when Rivera called.

“It could’ve been President Obama calling — I was going to answer it,” Dotson said. “I was ready for the call whoever it was.”

Going in the first round validated Dotson’s decision to return for a senior season. Now he hopes to prove the Commanders right for passing on more highly touted options to take him.

“One of my biggest traits of my game is my versatility to be able to play anywhere: to be able to play outside, play inside,” Dotson said. “I’m excited for the opportunity and can’t wait to see what (offensive coordinator Scott) Turner has in store for me.”

After making the trade with the Saints, the Commanders have two picks Friday night, one each in the second and third round (47 and 98). They also have five Day Three selections.

Rivera said the next goal is to find players to protect Wentz and also acknowledged there are needs on defense, too.

“We have six more picks to go, and we’re going to keep that in mind,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is a versatile broadcaster with a broad range of experience. He can be heard in in WTOP's traffic center and on the Sports Desk and his byline is on WTOP.com as a web writer/editor and sports columnist.

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