Josh Doctson Can Be the Biggest Steal of the 2016 NFL Draft

Michael Whitlow@@MAWhitlowFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2016

Josh Doctson was one of college football's most dangerous weapons in 2015.
Josh Doctson was one of college football's most dangerous weapons in 2015.Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Josh Doctson could be the next Odell Beckham Jr., while also being the steal of this year’s NFL draft.

That’s pretty high praise for a three-year star at Texas Christian University who comes from one of those gimmicky, Big 12 offenses, yeah?

It is, until you see what Doctson can do.

Sure, it’s easier to put Doctson in Beckham’s category because of his one-handed catches. It’s rather hard to do because of Beckham dominating in the dominant Southeastern Conference, while Doctson torched bad defenses in the Big 12 for three seasons after transferring from Wyoming.

Plus, Doctson has about three to four inches on Beckham in terms of their height.

But Doctson's and Beckham’s predraft trajectories are rather similar.

Beckham’s path to stardom got off to a rocky start after being taken 12th overall by the New York Giants. The two-time Pro Bowler missed all of training camp, preseason and the first four games of the 2014 season with a nagging hamstring issue.

Doctson missed the final two games of the season and TCU’s bowl game after having wrist surgery. The injury initially happened in TCU’s loss to Oklahoma State in November. The red flag for the injury will be there for Doctson at March’s combine, but the talent will also tag along.

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Depending on the draft board you look at, you’ll see Doctson anywhere among the wide receiver prospects behind Ole Miss star Laquon Treadwell and Baylor standout Corey Coleman.

The injury—plus Doctson’s slim, less-than-200-pound frame—is something to log when you take a look at his potential in the NFL, but in terms of production, not many did it better than Doctson.

Only one other WR in CFB last season had more receiving yards per game than Doctson's 120.6 yards per contest.
Only one other WR in CFB last season had more receiving yards per game than Doctson's 120.6 yards per contest.Chart via Google Spreadsheets

That receiving-yards-per-game stat will get a nice boost when you tie a Big 12 single-game record with 18 catches for 267 yards and three touchdowns in one game last September against Texas Tech.

One example of Doctson's "Beckham-esque" game is his route running.

Take this play in TCU's season opener against Minnesota:

With his defender in press coverage, Doctson makes a nice cut off the line, swats his defender's hands away and beats him to the inside with ease.

It was a common trend in 2015.

In 48 attempts against press coverage in 2015, Doctson had a success rate of 83.3 percent, per Matt Harmon of NFL.com. Doctson's success rate was higher than Treadwell's (70.6 percent in 51 attempts) and Coleman's (78.9 percent in just 19 attempts).

Dane Brugler of CBS Sports wrote this in Doctson's NFL draft profile under his "strengths":

Extends with magnet hands to pluck away from his body, displaying usually terrific focus and tracking ability. Uses his body well to box out and shield defenders from the ball. Immediately looks to turn catches upfield with deceiving run toughness and a strong stiff arm. Creates spacing in his routes and finds open zones to give his quarterback a clear target.

That sounds like someone familiar, doesn't it?

Doctson's game does differ from Beckham's in one major aspect (due to his size): being able to go up and get the ball.

Treadwell's size (6'2", 210 lbs) and tough-catch ability rank him atop the board at the wide receiver position heading into the draft, but it's also a quality that's going to make Doctson a rich man soon.

(Skip ahead to the 1:32 mark of the video below.)

This thought from SB Nation's Kyle Posey on Doctson's game stuck out: "Doctson has tremendous ability to track the ball in the air, high-point the pass, control himself midair and come down with some spectacular catches. Doctson plays like a 5'9" receiver before and after the catch then he plays like a 7'1" receiver when the ball is in the air."

Doctson's a slim, but big, target who is going to make his new quarterback quite happy.

Like every prospect who goes through the draft process, there are some concerns with Doctson. He hasn't played in a game since Nov. 14, a week after the wrist injury occurred. No matter how minor or major the injury is, it's always something to keep an eye on during the draft process.

Furthermore, Doctson's age (at 23, he transferred from Wyoming after his freshman season) and his slim frame (ranging somewhere between 193-195 pounds) are a couple of things you could list as cons when you break down Doctson's future.

What also hurts Doctson during the process of finding a new home is his level of competition. Treadwell played in the nation's best conference—the Southeastern Conference—while Doctson and Coleman ran through and past defenses in the Big 12.

(To put that in a better perspective, five of the Big 12's 10 teams ranked in the bottom 22 teams in total defense last season.)

However, it's going to be hard for teams in need of more explosive plays on offense to turn someone like this down:

Doctson's stock is all over the place.

Whoever takes him is going to be thankful for that.

He's a sneaky-good prospect who seems to have a limited hype train with just a week until the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

NFL.com's quartet of draft experts either has Doctson going No. 23 in the first round to the Minnesota Vikings or not at all in the opening round. Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller has Doctson going at the top of the third round to the Tennessee Titans. Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke has Doctson going atop the second round to the Cleveland Browns, with only Treadwell in front of him at No. 13 to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The game can never have too many playmakers.

If your team gets one like Doctson can be, you'll probably be dancing like Beckham Jr. too.

Michael Whitlow is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can find Michael's other work here, and you can follow him on Twitter: @MAWhitlow.