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NFL breakout players 2018: Is Josh Doctson finally ready to be a No. 1 receiver?

Washington’s first-round pick from two years ago should climb into the NFL’s upper echelon of receivers this year.

Washington Redskins v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Bouncing back from the Achilles injury that ruined his rookie campaign, I thought Josh Doctson acquitted himself quite nicely in his second season last year. The guy was just silky smooth running in everything he did, and he made it look so easy. There never seemed to be any wasted motion. Doctson looked like he was just gliding up the field most of the time.

Even though it didn’t always look like he was running hard, you would blink and Doctson would be zooming right past his defender.

The thing that jumped out to me the most about the 6’2, 206-pound Doctson last season was how he attacked the ball when it was in the air.

He straight up Debo’d more than one defensive back on balls that looked like they were about to be intercepted before Doctson swooped in to pluck them right out of the sky. If the pass was anywhere in his vicinity, Doctson had a good chance to come down with it.

Truth be told, Washington probably didn’t throw to Doctson enough in those 50/50 situations last year, considering the kinds of plays he made on the ones they did throw him. He started to look like the guy I envisioned Doctson being when I did his draft breakdown back when he was coming out of college.

Doctson ended last season with a very respectable 35 catches for 502 yards and six touchdowns, but, now two years after the Achilles injury, I would expect his numbers this season to blow those away.

I know new Washington quarterback Alex Smith, rightly or wrongly, has a reputation of not being aggressive and taking shots down the field. However, I have a feeling that once he sees how hard Doctson will fight for the ball and the kind of catches he can make for him in those situations, you will see Smith making those throws and giving him a chance. When you don’t have to throw the perfect pass to have success with a guy, that tends to motivate quarterbacks to keep throwing to them.

I expect Doctson to make the most of those opportunities. He could easily double his receptions and yards from last season if he stays healthy this year. Double-digit touchdowns would be my expectation, rather than just a goal, for him.

Doctson is likely to be the healthiest he has ever been since coming to the NFL, and he has already shown what he can do when Washington feeds him the ball. Now it’s just a matter of him staying healthy this season while he climbs his way into the conversation of being in the upper echelon of NFL receivers.

Confidence level: High