Evaluating wide receiver prospects is not easy. There are so many factors that influence a wide receiver's production. A wide receiver may convincingly win their individual matchup and not receive a target if the play design did not include them as the first read or if the offensive line does not hold up for long enough for the quarterback to deliver the pass.
Quarterbacks also simply miss open receivers when processing their reads -- and even if they find their man, there's no guarantee of an accurate pass. And even when all of those circumstances do align for a reception, a defensive player can simply negate it by interfering and making a reception impossible.
The wide receiver position is a difficult one to analyze, and that challenge is precisely why it is my favorite position to study. Matt Harmon of Yahoo Fantasy Sports may dedicate more time than any living human to the study of the wide receiver position, and the result of his work is a project called Reception Perception that aims to isolate a wide receiver's ability to win in specific situations independent of outside factors such as quarterback play.
When Harmon dug into all of the game film on 2022's rookie WR class, one player stood out as particularly unfortunate when it came to outside factors weighing down his production -- Washington's first-round selection, Jahan Dotson.
Dotson presents a perfect use case for Matt's work, as he is one of the trickiest young players to evaluate at any position. Dotson's collegiate production was a bit underwhelming as he dealt with incompetent quarterback play, and that narrative has perpetuated itself at the NFL level.
And with no clear answer at the quarterback position on Washington's roster, it may be some time before Dotson is able to produce the results that his talent suggests he is capable of. Because of the concerns at quarterback, Fantasy drafters have been much more inclined to select other Year 2 receivers ahead of Dotson.
Christian Watson goes well ahead of Dotson in drafts, while Treylon Burks and George Pickens also have a higher average draft position. When evaluating the second-year receivers from a real-life perspective, Harmon placed Dotson in a tier of his own -- behind the big three (Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, and Drake London), and definitively ahead of Watson, Burks, and Pickens.
For a deeper dive into Harmon's perspective on more wide receivers including Dotson and what the most predictable analytics say about the next class of breakout receivers, Jacob Gibbs has you covered on SportsLine here.