Jaylen Waddle - WR - University of Alabama
Welcome to the rookie profile for Jaylen Waddle. A home run threat every time he touches the ball. Waddle is a highly debated prospect in many circles mainly due to his strange profile in both analytics and film. One thing that both sides can agree on we all wish we got to see how the 2020 season would have played out for Waddle.
Team: Miami Dolphins
Height: 5′ 9″
Weight: 180 lbs
40-yard dash: DNP
3-cone drill: DNP
20-yard shuttle: DNP
Vertical Jump: DNP
Broad Jump: DNP
Bench Press: DNP
|College DOM||College YPR||College Target %||Breakout Age|
Waddle was recruited to the University of Alabama as a 4-star recruit out of high school. Throughout college, he was surrounded by NFL talent with names such as Jeudy, Ruggs, D. Smith, Irv Smith, Jacobs, and Harris. As a true freshman Waddle was primed to be the next dynamic receiver out of the University of Alabama.
In 2018, he was second behind Jerry Jeudy in receiving yards and accumulating over 100 yards more than the next closest receiver. This is particularly impressive when noting that in 2018 he only had one more reception than Irv Smith Jr., three more receptions than DeVonta Smith, and one less reception than Henry Ruggs. In his sophomore year, Waddle takes an apparent step back as Smith emerges as the new leading receiver in Alabama’s loaded WR room.
Finally, the 2020 season begins and it is just Waddle and Smith left to lead the wide receiver room. Through the first 4 games, Waddle was outpacing Smith in yards and on pace for an incredible season. Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain and a fracture to his right ankle during the kickoff of the Tennessee game. He made a brief return in the National Championship game but acted mainly as a decoy when on the field. Waddle’s regular season-ending injury has left many to only speculate what his final season could have been for the Tide.
Waddle is absolutely dynamic whenever he touches the ball with an exciting second gear. He possesses exceptional top speed and can get there instantly. He runs solid routes, but his best weapon in creating separation is his speed and acceleration. On top of his speed, he can stop on a dime and change direction. The slightest change of direction at that speed is enough to manipulate defenders and causing them to miss. At 5’9” and 210 lbs, he is not the biggest receiver, but he showed the ability on film to get vertical and make contested catches. Not only that, he showed the ability to make any catch. Whether that is an over-the-shoulder catch and tracking the ball, adjusting to the throw, catching the ball on the sideline keeping both feet in, or with a defender draped over him. Waddle also showed great versatility by lining up in the slot, some on the outside, and returning both kicks and punts. He was dynamic in the return game showing off his home run speed, acceleration, and elusiveness.
The lack of production his Sophomore year leading into the injury his Junior year is a real concern. We haven’t seen him back at 100% and won’t see him run before the draft since he did not participate in Alabama’s pro day. Landing spot will be key for Waddle because he is a player that could easily be pigeonholed into only being used as a slot receiver, a gadget guy, or only as a deep threat when he can easily do each of those things exceptionally well. Waddle also would sometimes struggle with press coverage and get knocked off his route when a defender plays him physically. Playing in the slot at the next level, this shouldn’t be a high concern. However, most incoming wide receiver prospects struggle with press coverage.
Expected Draft Capital:
Round 1. The NFL loves speed
Best Draft Fits:
As mentioned before, Waddle could easily get pigeonholed into a specific role and not allowed to flourish as a complete WR. Waddle would also benefit from playing alongside a prototypical wide receiver 1 to offset his skillset. Ideal landing spots would be the Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, or the New England Patriots.
The Green Bay Packers could bring back the Randall Cobb role of old. With the Tennessee Titans, he would compliment AJ Brown with a different kind of YAC as well as a deep threat. The departure of Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis leaves plenty of available targets. The New England Patriots need any kind of playmaker on their offense and could provide a much-needed spark. While I don’t love him being the sole Wide Receiver 1 for an offense, the need is there and I trust the Patriots will utilize his full skill set.
Miami Dolphins: Rounds 1, Pick 6
The Miami Dolphins selected Jaylen Waddle with the sixth pick of the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Dolphins already have established veteran wide receiver DeVante Parker and added Will Fuller from Houston this offseason. They are also still waiting for Mike Gesicki to break out and become a reliable option in the passing game. It was evident in the 2020 season that the Dolphins were lacking a difference maker in their wide receiver corps, and they made it clear that they want Waddle to be just that. Waddle can provide a dynamic spark that no one else on the roster can provide.
Waddle should be a day one starter for the Miami Dolphins out of the slot. He will have an immediate connection with Tua Tagovailoa as they shared the field together while playing for the Crimson Tide. If Tua can progress this offseason as a quarterback, the combination of Waddle and Tua could be exciting to watch for years to come. Waddle has the potential to be the focal point in the Dolphin’s passing attack. He may not lead the team in receptions, but he could in yards and touchdowns with his home run threat on every catch.
With a solid core of pass catchers around Waddle this upcoming year, he won’t be relied upon as a top target right away. The organization can ease Waddle into a more featured role in the offense, as taking him in the top 10 makes it clear they want Waddle to be the guy for this offense. But for redrafts, Waddle looks to be a boom/bust kind of player year one. It wouldn’t be surprising for Waddle to finish with some really big games on a couple long touchdowns. But it also wouldn’t be surprising for him to finish with some low scoring games where he didn’t get the ball as much and/or didn’t break any long touchdowns off. As for dynasty formats, Waddle shouldn’t be escaping the first round of super flex rookie drafts. He provides an immense ceiling as a truly dynamic playmaker that can do it all. He also provides a bit of risk if the Dolphins fail to utilize him to his full potential, although the Dolphin’s coaching staff and organization has taken a step in the right direction in this facet. He has the potential to be a top end wide receiver one for your dynasty team for a long time. The reason he falls to the end of the first is that he carries a bit more risk than other top wide receivers in this class like DeVonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase.