INDIANAPOLIS — It’s no secret the Chicago Bears are searching for the right players to bring in to help build around their young second-year quarterback Justin Fields. It’s widely considered Allen Robinson will not be returning, and outside of Darnell Mooney, there are no other established and reliable receivers on the roster.
Newly hired general manager Ryan Poles admitted at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine that receivers come in all shapes, sizes and speeds. The week in Indianapolis will help him and the scouting department gain perspective on what exactly sets receivers apart not just in terms of those measurables, but perhaps more importantly, the type of person that is behind the player.
If Poles made one thing clear on Tuesday when he spoke with the media it’s that he is looking to add players who have high aspirations to the locker room and how doing so can have a positive snowball effect on the team’s mindset and morale.
“I think we’ve all been around people that just want to be the absolute best that they can be, and it’s contagious, and it gives you energy. It gives you hope, and it shows me that we’ve gotta keep getting guys like that, and keep adding them to the roster. Because if everyone has that mentality, and they keep pushing each other, then all of a sudden the team starts to raise the bar, and the standard. Then it’s wins, then the division, then it’s going for championships.”Chicago Bears GM Ryan Poles
Bears Head Coach Matt Eberflus revealed there are two boxes a player must check immediately:
- Does the player love football?
- Is the player willing to work very hard?
If, and only if, the Bears agree that the answer to both of those questions is “Yes” they will then put in more time and effort to evaluate that player further.
One player that fits the mold for what both Poles and Eberflus are looking for is Penn State’s Jahan Dotson.
Dotson is coming off a standout senior season in which he caught 91 passes for 1,182 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Dotson’s love for the game runs deep. Something that has been true for most of his life. Ever since he was four years old, Dotson has found himself laying in bed tossing a football up and down over and over.
For Dotson, this isn’t just something to do to pass the time. Catching a football is something that helps him relax and relieve stress.
“Catching the football is pretty much therapeutic to me,” Dotson said in Indianapolis. “It’s something I really enjoy. So going up and catching passes is something I’ve been doing my whole life.”
There’s no questioning Dotson’s talent on the field. His hands are as sure as they come. He’s not afraid to go up to catch the ball at its highest point, and with the ball in his hands, Dotson has a knack of making defenders miss.
“I have fun when I have the ball in my hands. Any opportunity that I get, I am going to take it. … I’m an explosive player that’s very fast and can take the top off a defense,” Dotson said.
These are key attributes the Bears want out of receivers in their offense as Eberflus stated it will be “critical” for the quarterback to get the ball out fast and make quick decisions.
“The controlled passing game is just that, but the athletes are the guys that make you miss. That to mean is that you have guys that are quick, explosive, and strong,” Eberflus said.
This skillset describes Dotson to a T.
However, none of this matters if Dotson does not possess the mindset Poles is wanting to bring to Chicago as he builds a new culture inside Halas Hall.
The good news for Bears Fans is that Dotson has the mentality Poles desires. The receiver has high aspirations for his professional career.
“I want to be one of the best to play the game,” Dotson said. “That’s one of the reasons why I do this, just to be the best. I’m a huge competitor. And I love winning. So I just want to be the best.”
The Bears are presumably losing their No. 1 receiver in Robinson, but Chicago could bring in another former Nittany Lion who wants to be a quarterback’s best friend. Dotson told reporters at the combine that he wants to be the “go-to guy” in the key moments of the game.
Dotson checks every box on the Bears’ list both on and off the field. From his confidence and love of the game to being a big play waiting to happen at any given moment, Dotson could become a go-to guy for Justin Fields for years to come if he is available when the Bears are on the clock with the 39th pick.