Welcome to Washington, Josh Doctson

By | April 29, 2016
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Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

My full breakdown of wide receiver Josh Doctson from Texas Christian University (TCU), who the Washington Redskins selected with the 22nd overall pick yesterday evening:

POSITIVES:

  • Finished second in TCU history in career receptions and yards, and set the record for touchdown receptions
  • Was the focal point of TCU’s passing game; their offense noticeably regressed when he was out with injury
  • Touchdown machine; put up 25 receiving touchdowns over last two years despite missing three games in 2015
  • A natural pass catcher with big and strong hands that effortlessly swallow the football, and hold on to it through contact
  • Able to create separation from defenders downfield using his body lean and deceptive hand fighting ability
  • Very effective on slant routes, finding open areas in coverage and flashing his body to the quarterback
  • Willing to run the “dirty work” routes over the middle of the field and take the punishment, and keep coming back for more
  • Outstanding body control to adjust in mid­air when going for jump balls, easily and routinely making acrobatic catches
  • Phenomenal catching radius and vertical leaping ability (41 inches at the combine); he’ll be a nightmare for defenders on “50/50 balls”
  • Flashes an above average burst and accelerates quickly when running routes
  • Doesn’t get overwhelmed by physical corners who put their hands on him or force him into the boundary
  • Accustomed to having defenses focused on him, having been targeted on 36.5% of TCU’s pass attempts
  • Has a “lead receiver” mentality, believing he’s going to win every one-on-one matchup
  • Dependable and self-motivated player who loves football and constantly works at his craft
  • Teammates and coaches, loved him; you can’t find anyone who has a single negative thing to say about him personally

NEGATIVES:

  • Played in a spread offense at TCU, will need time to acclimate to the full NFL route tree and nuances of the NFL passing game
  • Needs to learn how to better set up defenders at the top of route stem
  • Intermediate routes can look a bit clunky and obvious
  • Will need to learn how to better separate from NFL cornerbacks; spread offense in college created a lot of artificial space downfield
  • Needs to add more muscle to prepare for physical press cornerbacks in the NFL
  • Overall speed is good to very good, but not elite
  • Isn’t a major threat in terms of yards after catch
  • Shows a willingness to block downfield, but needs to show more consistency doing so

ANALYSIS:

Scot McCloughan did it again.

Right when everyone had the Redskins pegged for taking a defensive lineman, linebacker, or safety, McCloughan trusted the process and stuck with the modus operandi that helped him build two Super Bowl teams: take the best player available on his board.

Sure, there will be fans who complain that the Redskins should’ve taken a defensive player with their pick, since they need an infusion of talent basically anywhere on the defense, more so than they do on the offense. And they’d be right too. But they also might be missing the bigger picture.

For one, as everyone’s been saying, this draft is LOADED with defensive talent. Take a look at the list of guys who are still available heading into rounds two and three tonight: linebacker Myles Jack from UCLA (who I’ve heard is off the Redskins draft board due to the concerns about his knee), defensive tackle Andrew Billings from Baylor, defensive end Kevin Dodd from Clemson, linebacker Reggie Ragland from Alabama, defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson from Alabama (last night wasn’t Nick Saban’s finest hour, in terms of promising high draft selections to future Crimson Tide recruits). It’s totally reasonable the Redskins could take a defensive lineman, linebacker, and/or defensive back who could contribute right from the get go, over the next two or three rounds (like McCloughan did in 2015).

But as far as Doctson? You can’t overstate how shrewd a pick this was.

For one, Doctson, at worst, was one of the two or three best receivers in this draft class (though many people believed he was the best of the bunch). My best NFL comparison for him would be putting AJ Green, Roddy White (in his prime) and Jordan Matthews in a blender; that’s not a bad mix at all.

McCloughan just added a player with that concoction of skills to a Redskins offense that averaged just under 28 points per game over the last six games of last season. He’s making good on his promise to surround Kirk Cousins with as many talented weapons as possible, and to put Cousins in a situation where he doesn’t have to win football games by himself. All Cousins has to do is “drive the car” without wrecking it.

When the Redskins go four wide receivers, Cousins can choose from Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and Jordan Reed at tight end. That group is light years better than any of their counterparts in the NFC East.

Can you imagine the pressure the Redskins can put on defenses, when they have to account for both Jackson and Doctson potentially taking the top off the defense, and Garcon and Reed attacking the underneath area? Who do they account for? Teams couldn’t possibly devote an extra defender to Doctson’s side, because that would leave Jackson one-on-one with a cornerback, which is a recipe for disaster. If they roll coverage towards Jackson, that leaves Doctson in a one-on-one situation with his cornerback; if Cousins throws a jump ball in Doctson’s direction, there’s at least a 50% chance that something bad is going to happen to the defense. Or how about a red zone situation with Reed (who Cousins began perfecting the fad pass to last season), Garcon (who’s as tough as nails around the goal line), and Doctson (with his jump ball ability)?

Amidst all that talent, Doctson clearly won’t have to be “the guy” from day one. He has the luxury of being slowly integrated into the offense, and actually being developed for a year. So when, after the 2016 season, the Redskins have to make a decision on the future of Garcon and Jackson’s contracts, they won’t be forced into overpaying to keep either of them. Doctson could theoretically step in to be the #1 receiver alongside Crowder and Ryan Grant. That group sounds a lot better than just Crowder and Grant.

That’s why the short term approach of “drafting for need” is almost always trumped by the idea of “draft the best player available.” It’s the difference between a short-sighted versus long-term view of things.

When everyone was projecting Andrew Billings and Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson to the Redskins because of their need on the defensive line, McCloughan was thinking differently. He made a move yesterday that makes this team better immediately, he’ll continue to improve the team today, and he’s set up the team to be in a better position one year from now.

On an evening, in which the Cowboys bypassed perhaps the best defensive player — if not the best overall player (Jalen Ramsey) — in the draft, the Giants spent the 10th overall by badly reached on a cornerback who could’ve/should’ve been a late first round pick (Eli Apple), and the Eagles mortgaged a boatload of future picks on their quarterback of the future (Carson Wentz) but managed to piss off their quarterback of the present (Sam Bradford), the Redskins came out of the first round looking really, really smart.

Josh Doctson is another solid building block in Scot McCloughan’s master plan.

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