Editor's Note: In the days leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, we will be profiling the TCU football graduates who hope to hear their name called this weekend. We start our series with the man who we expect to hear called first, and hopefully in the first round.
Josh Doctson is a player with a story -- a Cinderella-esque tale of a man who's journey began at the bottom and ended at the top.
But Doctson's story is nowhere near ending. It's just beginning.
The young wide receiver who joined the TCU football team as a walk-on is now widely heralded as a first-round draft pick. Let's take a look back at how he got there, and where he may be going next.
Doctson's journey at TCU started early. He was a Bleacher Creature when he was young, running across the football field with the other kids before each game. When it was his turn to play college ball, TCU wasn't interested in him at the time, so he went to Wyoming instead. He played one season there until his ailing grandfather prompted him to return to Texas to be closer to family. He could still play football at TCU, except he'd have to join the team as a walk-on. He figured it was worth a shot.
The walk-on eventually proved himself worthy to be a starter. His 2013 season showed flickers of light on what he could do -- he had four touchdowns and led the team with 440 receiving yards (then again, the team went 4-8 that year). But it wasn't until 2014 that Doctson's NFL-potential became evident. He finished the season with 1,018 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. His one-handed touchdown grab against Minnesota became an instant classic.
His 2015 senior season was a bit shaky as he battled a wrist injury, missing two games and barely getting through another. But even though the injury hampered his playing time, it didn't hamper his play. He still broke numerous school records, including TCU's all-time record in career receiving yards and touchdowns, and also received consensus first team All-American honors.
But even though Doctson would leave TCU with a legacy of success, that wasn't how he wanted to be remembered.
For a while, Doctson's draft stock was overshadowed by receivers like Ole Miss' Laquon Treadwell and Baylor's Corey Coleman. But, just like most things in his life, Doctson had to work his way up. In time, draft analysts -- and NFL scouts -- began to take notice.
The NFL Combine became the stage where Doctson could show off his abilities. Among wide receivers, he had the best vertical jump (41 inches) and second-best broad jump (10 feet, 11 inches). He also ran a decent 40-yard dash at 4.5-seconds. Not to mention his gauntlet performance was stunning.
All in all, he's shown great stuff -- tall, agile, great body control. And as shown in ESPN's Sport Science, his catch radius is comparable to Dez Bryant's. The one thing that may make teams wary of him is his slender frame and blocking ability, but those traits haven't stopped Doctson from weaving into the first rounds of numerous mock drafts. Many have him going in the mid- to late-first round. One mock draft even had him going as high as the top 10.
He also got an invite to the NFL Draft ceremony in Chicago, which almost seals the deal.
Now the question is, what team?
Several mock drafts have Doctson going to the Cincinnati Bengals, joining fellow Horned Frogs Andy Dalton and last year's pick, Paul Dawson. Some have Doctson going to the Minnesota Vikings, while others have suggested he join the Detroit Lions as Calvin Johnson's replacement (not that Megatron can be so easily replaced).
The dream team for Doctson would really be Cincinnati, though. If there's anything that Dalton needs besides a reliable offensive line, it's skilled receivers, and Doctson could be the guy. It'll just look like the Bengals have some type of 10-year Master Plan to slowly turn the entire team into the TCU Horned Frogs. But hey, it's a Frog-to-Frog relationship -- instant chemistry between quarterback and wideout.
But let's leave that decision to the coaches and GM's. Whatever happens, Doctson will be drafted. Then he'll be back to the beginning of the cycle -- a rookie again, working like a walk-on to prove he can be the best.