If this was a game of word association, the term “Josh Doctson” would most commonly see the response “old”. That was the focus before the combine, and then Doctson was a shining light in an otherwise bleak receiver class in terms of athleticism. Now, he has become a popular alternative to Laquon Treadwell as the top wide receiver in this rookie class. How he has gotten to this point though, goes further back than February 2016.
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Unlike many of the other heralded receivers in this class, Doctson did not have the praise coming out of high school. He was a two or three star recruit, depending on which service is grading, and only received two offers as a 6’3”, 175 lb receiver. Subsequently, Doctson spent his freshman year at Wyoming, collecting 35 catches (on 53 targets) with five of them for touchdowns. He decided to transfer to Texas Christian University (TCU) and sat in 2012, thus causing the current age questions. 2013 was similar to his freshman year, 36 receptions (on 56 targets) with four touchdowns and an identical 1.30 AIR score. 2014 was the Doctson coming out party: over 1000 yards (1018) with career highs in catches (65), touchdowns (11), and yards per catch (15.7). And then he broke all those numbers in 2015. 78 receptions (career high 75% catch rate), 1326 yards, 17.0 yards per catch, and 14 touchdowns. He also recorded his third 1.30+ AIR score, which puts him in elite company.
The numbers have looked great for Doctson, but questions remain as to how much of it was generated from a highly accurate quarterback (Trevone Boykin) and a pass-friendly system. Fine, let’s separate the layers of this delicious cake by analyzing the metrics and film.
Metric spider chart for Josh Doctson courtesy of MockDraftable.com
Doctson was packing in that Texas BBQ, adding 27 pounds to that high school frame to fill out at 202 pounds. He did lose an inch or two in height from various listings, but 6’2” is still a solid figure, especially as you watch his vertical game. The arm length is fine (nearly 32 inches) and the hands are big too (just shy of 10 inches) so there is little physically to pick on regarding Doctson.
Strong times in the vertical jump (41”, 95th percentile) and the broad jump (131”, 96th) show we have a very explosive athlete. Good speed was expected (4.50 forty yard dash) but the agility shown in the three cone (6.84, 67th), twenty yard shuttle (4.08, 81st), and sixty yard shuttle (11.06, 90th) was a pleasant surprise. This is what led to the aforementioned shine from the combine.
Another great metric resource is PlayerProfiler.com. Let’s jump over to Josh Doctson from there.
PlayerProfiler likes Doctson as well. His college dominator is solid at 38.6% (74th percentile) and his breakout age (18.8, 94th) alludes to a good NFL future. While some might look at Sidney Rice as a negative comparable, keep in mind that Rice had a good career wrecked by injury. Rice also had similar success to Doctson in college, including the ability to operate effectively in the red zone.
Did you miss Doctson’s catch radius? Well he caught it. Get it? No? Moving on. A 96th percentile catch radius compares favorably to guys like Julio Jones and Mike Evans. Those insane vertical and broad jump numbers result in that 97th percentile burst score while his agility (80th) also has him in that Julio Jones athletic range (93rd and 81st respectively). Yes, Julio is faster (4.39 forty yard dash), but it is hard to deny that Doctson measures up in many areas similar to the all-world receiver.
Josh Doctson torched a lot of defenses in 2015, so I selected the Texas game where he did well but had some struggles along the way. That film courtesy of Draft Breakdown is below:
Want to see how Doctson puts all his skills together? Check out his touchdown in the first quarter. It was great coverage by the defense, but Doctson simply tracked the ball and used his vertical ability and field awareness to come down with the score. You can also a willingness to block, even if it is not his best suit. The downfield threat is apparent by the lack of press coverage and the ease to which he blows by the cornerback. Most impressive about Doctson in this game may be the diversity of routes shown. Beyond just the simple fly route, he runs comebacks, outs, and short screens during various points in the game.
Even a strong prospect like Doctson has some opportunities, some of which are shown in this game. There are times, particularly when he is not the primary target, where Doctson fails to sell his route. You can see a few instances where his routes are rounded or at half speed. While his hands are strong, I have seen a few times where he goes for the flashier catch (one-handed or unnecessarily leaping) instead of focusing on making the catch.
These are just the film notes from a novice. Check out episode 10 of FilMetrx and see what the keen eye of Nick Whalen found.
Doctson has shown the ability to lead a team, evident by the 25% team target share in 2015. The ability to track the ball, play down the field, and ultimately snare the ball are all elite in this draft class. When a team speaks about a receiver who can correct a quarterback’s bad throw, Doctson is the type they refer to.
Since the end of the season, Josh has risen from seventh to third in rookie mock drafts. DLF rankers are conflicted with Doctson ranging from the first to fifth wide receiver. Personally, I have him first in my wide receiver ranks with Treadwell hot on his heels. If Doctson ends up as a first round pick, particularly to a receiver needy team like the Bengals, he could be an instant contributor for dynasty teams.
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After Treadwill’s disappointing pro day, can we expect teams to place Doctson above him on their boards? Will any DLF readers do the same?
Nice piece George. Still debating who I’d take at 1.03 among Treadwell, Doctson, and Coleman. Honestly am constantly vacillating among them, and am currently spooked by Treadwell’s dismal 40 times (4.63 and 4.65). Might come down to landing spot for me.
BTW – has DLF noticed the dramatic drop in the # of comments on all of the DLF pieces now with the new web format? If so was that intentional? To me a big chunk of the value of the DLF pieces is the ensuing comments and debate. I learn at least as much from those as the piece, since they often help put it all into perspective. Hope we find a way to get the article commentary back up. Thanks!
1.02 above (not 1.03). Zeke is the clear #1, question is who’s #2? Thanks.
Thanks for reading! I agree Zeke is 1. I have Doctson two but like I mentioned, Treadwell is right there with him. My 4 is Coleman, who is in the same tier as the other two but slightly lower, then there is a drop for me.
Agree that landing spot (and draft capital) will be the final components which could shift my rankings a little. That’s the fun of comparing pre and post draft mocks/actual rookie drafts.
I think we already started to see both, but I think it’s not too prevalent. They are close enough though where we see it flip-flop between them during the offseason (in my opinion).
Thanks for reading!