CHICAGO – Josh Doctson took an unconventional, uncelebrated path to becoming a first-round NFL draft pick, chosen by the Washington Redskins 22nd overall.
Speaking to reporters in Chicago late Thursday, well after he’d spoken by telephone to the Redskins’ press corps in Washington, Doctson credited his rise from Wyoming transfer and Texas Christian walk-on to hard work, family and humility. The last stood out most.
“Being without a scholarship, you’re viewed kind of in a different lens,” the 6-foot-2, 202-pound wide receiver said. “If I’m a head coach, and I got guys on scholarship, I’m gonna show ’em more praise; those are guys I recruited. I was a guy that was in the back – kinda [invisible]. I embraced that.
“I thought, ‘Man, I’m gonna be the janitor of this team. You go in this room, see the room is clean. You’re gonna wonder who cleaned it. And I’m there smiling because I know I did it. So that’s really how I approached TCU. That’s how I was able to stay grounded throughout my years there. And I plan on doing [that] on this next level.”
Doctson said he was eager to learn from veteran wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, whom he called “two dynamic players,” and will fit in however the team needs.
“I can go in there and kind of know that I’ll have a smaller role than they do, be able to just contribute where I can,” Doctson said. “Whatever they expect from me, I’ll be ready to do, whether that’s special teams or here and there on the field. I’m ready to get to work and see what happens.”
After trading down a spot with the Houston Texans on Thursday night, General Manager Scot McCloughan and the Redskins considered Doctson the best player available, even though wide receiver wasn’t a first-round priority.
“He’s got height,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s got the mad leaping skills which are very appealing – especially in the red zone. He’s another guy that’s going to bring athleticism to this offense, and we’re excited to have him.”
Washington had pressing needs at defensive line but decided to pass on a number of potential options, including Kenny Clark (taken 27th overall by the Green Bay Packers), Robert Nkemdiche (30th overall by the Arizona Cardinals) and Vernon Butler (31st overall by the Carolina Panthers). The Redskins had a nice corps of wide receivers for 2016 before adding Doctson, but Jackson and Garcon are both entering this season on expiring contracts.
“There’s arguments there that you can take defense, but we took the best player,” Gruden said. “We addressed defense the other day with Josh Norman. We gave them a first-round pick, so they should be happy. It’s about building a football team and taking the best player to help us, and we thought Josh was a perfect fit.”
Gruden is certainly right about Doctson’s jumping abilities, as his 41-inch vertical tied for the best among wide receivers at the NFL combine in February. The Redskins also didn’t have a wide receiver over 6 feet last season. Doctson had 78 catches for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns in 10 games, suffering a season-ending injury to his wrist at the end of the year that he said has completely healed.
Doctson was the third wide receiver selected in the draft: The Cleveland Browns took Corey Coleman with the 15th overall pick, then the Texans chose Will Fuller before Washington’s selection. Laquon Treadwell went off the board to the Minnesota Vikings right after Doctson, at No. 23, to make it three in a row.
“I think [Doctson’s] the most polished receiver of the group, personally,” Gruden said. “I think he can do a lot of different things across the middle. When the ball is in the air, he’s got the jumping ability. He’s got great hands. I think he’s got the best hands in the draft also. He’s a great pure route-runner. I graded him out very, very high. Our scouts had him graded out very high. Scot loved him. We all loved him, obviously, based on his production.
“The game is not too big for him. He’s just a solid, all-around football player. Great body control, which you can’t coach that. The ball is in the air, he can twist all kind of different ways. It reminds me a lot of A.J. Green a couple years ago in Cincinnati.”
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Tesfatsion reported from Ashburn, Virginia.