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CONTENT

Post Draft Analysis
Youtube Highlights
ESPN Insider Draft Analysis (paid subscription)
NFL.COM Draft Analysis
NFL Draft Bible Analysis (paid subscription)
Pro Football Focus Draft Analysis (paid subscription)
Gridiron Draft Guide (Simon Clancy) (paid subscription)
Pro Football Network (Tony Pauline) Analysis
The 33rd Team (Ireland et al.) Analysis

 

 

POST DRAFT ANALYSIS

Dan Jamroz (Phinfever)
This has been telegraphed for a while based on how the Wide Receiver room is currently constructed. I've seen a lot of complaints about how he is not a "complete" receiver or that his game needs more polish. I think everyone has to take a breath and see the forest from the trees with this selection. Waddle has some outstanding routes and is NOT just a vertical threat. His footwork gets him open quickly underneath and the homerun speed is the icing on the cake. This is not Ted Ginn 2.0. Waddle can certainly stretch the field but his damage will be done in more of a slot role. He is a very good set of hands. Make no mistake that Tua probably provided a lot of intel to seal this selection. Now take it a step further. Imagine defenses having to account for both him and Will Fuller. They can basically interchange on being decoys while the other works the middle of the field or gets open deep. Waddle was the missing piece to this Dolphins offense. The draft is loaded with slower, possession type or even 50/50 type targets.

Pete Prisco (CBS Sportts)
I think he has the Tyreek Hill type of ability. I think he will help Tua Tagovailoa a ton. It works.
Grade: B+

Bucky Brooks (NFL.COM)
The speedster is the most explosive run-after-the-catch playmaker in the class. Waddle adds a dimension to the offense with his ability to score from anywhere on the field as a deep-ball specialist or catch-and-run scorer.

Pro Football Focus
Like the Bengals, the Dolphins reunite their starting quarterback with a former wide receiver teammate. Jaylen Waddle arrives in Miami with experience catching passes from Tua Tagovailoa. He is an explosive play waiting to happen, whether it’s on a bubble screen or a post route. He is the elite burner receiver of the entire draft class and rounds out the Dolphins’ receiving corps.
Pick Grade: Very Good

Pro Football Network
Jaylen Waddle is the highest-graded receiver I’ve studied since I began assigning official grades in 2017. That alone makes the Dolphins NFL Draft winners. When defensive coordinators talk about who they fear most offensively, I’d bet most of them would say Tyreek Hill. He brings an element that, before Waddle, nobody else in the league possessed. The best way to describe the former Alabama receiver is the (almost) perfect lovechild of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs. He owns the outrageously quick feet of Jeudy in and out of cuts and the overall long speed nearing Ruggs. He also catches the ball at a better rate than Jeudy, and the only thing not ideal about his game is his height and weight. In man coverage, he’s uncoverable.

Sports Illustrated (SI)
The most explosive wideout in the draft didn’t have to wait long to hear his name called. Waddle is an unbelievable deep threat, who can be compared to Tyreek Hill. His explosiveness is hard to stop, and when fully healthy he was better than DeVonta Smith in 2020. There are very few weaknesses in his game, and Waddle may just have the most upside of the top wideouts. Miami needed help at the receiver position, and they reunite Tua with his former teammate here. Waddle is a burner, and the Dolphins were not willing to let him slide down the draft. If things work out with Waddle, he can elevate this offense to another level. This is a safe pick, yet Waddle has an elite ceiling. -- JB

Todd McShay (ESPN+)
Which former college teammate QB-WR duo is going to be the most dangerous in the NFL? I'll go with Miami's Tua Tagovailoa and Jaylen Waddle, but it's a tough call. I think Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase are going to do big things in Cincinnati, and DeVonta Smith is going to be a favorite of Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia. But I settled with the Dolphins' tandem because of the organization. I look at what GM Chris Grier and that coaching staff are building in Miami, and I just think they're setting the Tagovailoa-Waddle connection up for success. And it's the sustainable kind of success. Waddle caught almost 800 yards worth of passes from Tagovailoa at Alabama before the QB was drafted fifth overall last year. I expect them to pick up right where they left off. Waddle's elusiveness is going to produce a lot of yards after the catch, and he tracks the deep ball really well, so we can expect some deep strikes for big gains.

Mel Kiper (ESPN+)
I had Waddle behind his teammate DeVonta Smith, but he was my fifth-ranked prospect overall, and I can't quibble with Miami preferring Waddle. He is electric with the ball in his hands, and he'll really help Tua Tagovailoa improve his yards per attempt.
Evaluation: WIN

SBNATION
Two picks, two handcuffs in a row. The Dolphins reunite Waddle with Tua Tagovailoa and give him a shifty receiver who can mesh really well with their first round pick a year ago. Miami needed a top-end weapon, and they got it here. The offense will be better as a result, and considering the bevy of picks the Dolphins have, getting a player widely regarded to be the best WR in this draft was a great choice. Now they can address other issues later.
Grade: B+

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-Draft Analysis
Waddle is an undersized slot receiver and punt returner who is the most dangerous player in the draft with the ball in his hands, thanks to his lateral agility, elusiveness, field vision and breakaway speed. He bursts off the line and explodes out of his breaks. Press corners struggle to redirect Waddle, and he runs by coverage when he gets a clean release. -- Steve Muench

Post-Draft Analysis
It's another reunion between a college quarterback and receiver as Tua Tagovailoa and Waddle connected for nearly 800 yards in Tuscaloosa. That familiarity should help both of them, and the Dolphins had to give Tagovailoa more to work with. A trio of Waddle, Will Fuller V and DeVante Parker is exactly what the second-year quarterback needs to find success. -- Muench

Why they picked him:
A need for speed. Waddle is believed to be the draft's fastest player even though he didn't test because of a fractured ankle. With elite run-after-catch and deep-ball ability, Waddle is a good description of the game-changing playmaker the Dolphins need to help QB Tua Tagovailoa. When faced with a choice between reuniting Tagovailoa with one of his two former Alabama receivers, they leaned toward the bigger, faster and more electric Waddle over the more productive and polished DeVonta Smith.

Biggest question:
Can Waddle become a complete No.1 receiver? Waddle was never the most productive receiver at Alabama with Jerry Jeudy holding that title in 2018 and Smith dominating in 2019 and 2020. Lofty redraft comparisons to Tyreek Hill made headlines, but Waddle is far less advanced as a route runner and against press coverage than Waddle, so he'll have to make big jumps there to become Miami's No.1 receiver. -- Cameron Wolfe

 

Player Bio

Waddle was a top-40 overall recruit out of Episcopal High School in Houston before making plays for the Tide. He was a strong contributor on offense (45 receptions, 848 yards, 18.8 average, seven touchdowns) and special teams (16 punt returns, 233 yards, 14.6 average, one TD) as a freshman in 2018, starting three of 15 games played. Waddle was part of one of the best receiving corps in college football history in 2019. He only started three of 13 games played (33 receptions, 560 yards, 17.0 average, six TDs) because he was playing behind two first-round picks in Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III, as well as 2020 Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. Waddle earned 2019 second-team Associated Press All-American and SEC Special Teams Player of the Year honors by leading the FBS in punt return average (20 returns, 487 yards, 24.4 average, one TD) and also scoring once on a kick return (five returns, 175 yards, 35.0 average). His junior season started off with a bang (28 receptions, 591 yards, 21.2 average, four TDs; four kick returns, 39 yards, 9.8 average; two punt returns, 13 yards, 6.5 average), but a broken ankle suffered while returning a kickoff against Tennessee cost him six games. The second-team All-SEC kick returner suited up for the national title game, limping at times as he contributed (three receptions, 34 yards, 11.3 average) to the team's win over Ohio State. -- by Chad Reuter

Analysis

  • Draft Projection - Round 1
  • NFL Comparison - Tyreek Hill

Overview

Thrilling, game-breaking talent who will come into the league as one of the fastest receivers to ever play the game. His whereabouts pre-snap and post-snap must be accounted for at all times. Despite his size, he's a legitimate outside option, thanks to his ability to not only take the top off the defense, but also go up and win 50-50 throws. Waddle's adept at working all three levels, so it will be tough for defenses to predict how offenses will utilize him, as he has the potential to post a higher catch volume in the right offense. Waddle can instantly upgrade a team's scoring potential, whether it's with the deep ball, the catch-and-run or as a return man.

Strengths

  • Cheat-code speed to terrify a defense.
  • Eleven of 20 career touchdowns went for 50-plus yards.
  • Toys with coverage by altering route speed frequently.
  • Impossible to stick with on crossing routes.
  • Agile hips to snap off crisp breaks.
  • Sells the double moves.
  • Impressive fluidity to maintain speed through transitions.
  • Lower-body strength helps to battle against route bullies.
  • Specializes in accessible routes on all three levels.
  • Early to find and adjust to the deep ball.
  • Runs through the throw rather than reaching and slowing prematurely.
  • Obliterates would-be tackle angles with the ball in his hands.
  • Glides, leaps and snares the ball in mid-air.
  • Puts up a good fight as a blocker.
  • 19.3-yard career punt return average with two touchdowns.

Weaknesses

  • Coming off ankle injury.
  • Never really tested by coverage in 2020.
  • Will default to body catches on occasion.
  • Had drops when ball was on top of him quickly out of breaks.
  • Hasn't faced too much press.

 

JAYLEN WADDLE | Alabama | WR | #17 | Jr | 5096 | 182 | Houston, TX | Episcopal HS | 11.25.98 (22)

OVERVIEW:
Arguably the fastest player in college football, “The Cheetah” is a lightning-quick game-breaker, possessing blow-torch speed and quickness. Waddle is a lethal weapon in the slot with his ability to create separation. He has a playing style similar to Santonio Holmes (Ohio State/Pittsburgh Steelers), as he is that type of athletic receiver with his fluid moves and creativeness after the catch. While he lacks size, that doesn’t prevent Waddle from going up in traffic and competing for contested balls. He has plenty of toughness to go over the middle and has proven he can endure some big hits -- plus he has the ability to break tackles. His main focus for improvement has been getting a cleaner release, while also getting in and out of his breaks faster when running routes. Waddle loves the game and possesses a high football IQ; Alabama head coach Nick Saban always said the coaches had a lot of confidence in Waddle in a variety of situations. Has provided excellent return capabilities both on kickoffs and punts. The 2020 season was off to a spectacular start, when he was arguably Alabama’s top offensive weapon, before his regular season was cut short because of an ankle injury, although he returned to play at less than 100 percent in the national championship victory over Ohio State. When healthy, Waddle owns the combination of explosiveness, vertical speed, toughness and run after catch ability is reminiscent of Tyreek Hill (Chiefs).

QUOTE OF NOTE:
The whole week, I was telling him not to play. I keep telling him like, ‘Listen, J-dub. You ain’t gotta show nothing, alright? We all know what you can do; we all know. Just take this game out. The worst thing that we want to see as a teammate is to see something happen again.’ But he suited up. At the end of day, it’s his decision. J-dub, one thing, is a warrior, you know what I’m sayin?" – Alabama RB Najee Harris, on Waddle playing in the National Title Game

BACKGROUND:
Played for Steve Leisz at Houston Episcopal; tabbed as a four-star wide receiver by the major recruiting outlets. Suffered a high-ankle sprain and fracture to his ankle against the University of Tennessee in 2020.

CAREER:

 

 

3. JAYLEN WADDLE
ALABAMA #17
SIZE: 5ft 10ins, 182lbs CLASS:

THE SKINNY:
tyreek Hill-type cheat code WR who is one of the most explosive players in the entire draft. A multi-dimensional combination of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, Waddle is a great prospect in the context of today’s NFL.

DEEP DIVE:
As I mentioned, there are a lot of similarities between the games of Waddle and Hill, notably in terms of the athletic traits and how he could be deployed in an offense. The first question you need to ask is whether he can handle the same heavy usage that Hill has and where he fits from an alignment standpoint. Much like DeVonta Smith, Waddle’s the sort of weapon that you’d move around the formation to create matchup problems and get him the ball in a variety of ways: jet sweeps, orbit reverses, etc. He possesses rare explosiveness, change-of-direction ability, lateral quicks and instincts, and can win at all three levels of the field. What you love about him is his ability to turn quick hitters into big plays, and his YAC ability is elite – Waddle owns three of the top-five longest scoring receptions in Alabama history. His route running is still a work in progress, although there was more nuance to it in 2020 than in previous seasons. He still relies on speed rather than setting up defenders, destroying the cushion and then accelerating into another gear to track down the ball in the air. Waddle is at his best on deep routes or middle screens where he gets a free release and then turns on the afterburners, but has improved his ability to open up the route tree and his acceleration through the release point can be unplayable. You can see the speed of Ruggs and, as he develops, he’s adding elements of the route running of Jeudy. There are more head-and-shoulder fakes, more body dips as he cuts or sells. Interestingly, for all his athletic traits, he doesn’t have elite hands and will body catch a little too much. Brings added value in the return game, where he scored three times in three seasons.

OFF THE FIELD:
Suffered a broken ankle midway through 2020, returned for the National Championship but didn’t look healthy. Nick Saban talked about his competitiveness and compared him to Allen Iverson. Ran a 4.37 in high school. Nickname in HS was ‘Magic’.

 

JAYLEN WADDLE
WIDE RECEIVER

  • Grade: 4.45
  • Projected Round: 1
  • Postion Rank: 3
  • Overall Rank: 11

CAREER SNAPSHOT:
A multi-sport high school athlete, the four-star recruit out of Houston Episcopal emerged as an electric big-play threat for Alabama as a fresh-man in 2018.
Although he missed most of the 2020 college football season, his performances early in the season -- 28 receptions for 591 yards and 4 touchdowns -- demonstrated his game-changing ability.
Alongside teammate DeVonta Smith, Waddle is set to continue the rich heritage of Alabama receivers in the NFL.

POSITIVES:
Game-changing receiver with a second gear. Fast off the line of scrimmage, immediately gets to top speed, and almost always gets a step or two on defenders in the initial 10 yards.
Displays route discipline, easily makes the re-ception in stride, and adjusts to make the deep catch at full speed.
Gets vertical over defenders and effectively times receptions. Tracks the pass in the air and consistently catches the ball with his hands away from his frame. Explosive return spe-cialist who instantaneously alters the mo-mentum of games with big plays. Shows terrific run-after-the-catch skill.

NEGATIVES:
Not a stout skill player and gets easily brought down at the point by a single de-fender. Struggles in battles.

ANALYSIS:
Waddle is an explosive skill player and a lethal force any time the ball is in his hands. He was well on his way to developing his game before sustaining an ankle injury last season, yet he still showed great progress on the field. The lack of size may be a limiting factor, but the speed and pass-catching skill displayed the past two years will lead anyone to the conclusion that Waddle offers big-time potential at the next level.

PFN's BEST FITS:
Miami Dolphins, New York Giants, Washington Football Team

 

THE 33RD TEAM

BUILD
Does not have ideal size for a receiver as he is only 182 pounds. Definitely has room to bulk up. Very lanky. Durability is not a ton of concern outside of the ankle injury he suffered in his junior season. Just based off of the National Championship game, Waddle does not look ready to fully come back from his injury. He was noticeably limping despite having some yards after the catch. That will be one of the only caveats, in regards to his health, that teams should take into consideration when drafting him.

MENTAL
Waddle doesn't play with the most urgency in the world as there do appear to be some plays where he takes the off, specifically in the run game. However, in the passing game, he gets open by any means possible, and it looks effortless. Doesn't break tackles well, but he picks up such huge yardage already due to his speed that that is not a big issue for him. He played the National Championship game (and had three catches) when he clearly wasn't healthy. That shows a lot of toughness.

ATHLETICISM
Waddle is electric in the open field. His pure speed will make him one of the faster, if not THE fastest, receivers in this class. Looks a little stiff on some plays and doesn't necessarily fight through contact. One defender to tackle Waddle usually does the trick when they are able to get to him. Change of direction ability doesn't look smooth all the time, but it is still really good and should make Waddle an attractive prospect when healthy out of this class

TECHNICAL
Waddle is motioned a lot into the backfield in order to mask his inability to block well. He is mediocre in this department and takes a lot more plays off than DeVonta Smith does. Waddle is really good against press coverage, and there aren't many corners who can keep him from getting open right off the line of scrimmage. Return ability is really good, and teams can put him in as a punt returner or a kick returner and he will do a lot of damage. Waddle has the ability, despite his size, to make contested catches deep. He looks like a more dynamic Henry Ruggs. Run after the catch ability isn't as good as DeVonta Smith's, but it is still really good, and he has the ability to create big yardage out of plays that look like they are going to do nothing.

SUMMARY
Waddle is impossible to guard one-on-one, especially on vertical concepts. Even with Waddle not being 100% healthy currently, he should still be picked in the top-15 picks of this upcoming draft. This is a guy who teams can plug in on day one to help spread the offense out. Teams can also get really creative with him since his speed is so good. Alabama ran a lot of pop pass plays to Waddle when he was healthy in 2020, and NFL teams love running that play with fast receivers. He is more of a ready prospect than Henry Ruggs was a year ago, and this should have teams excited. Waddle can also enhance a team's special teams unit immensely as he was electric in that department at Bama. This is a guy who can be thrown inside or outside, and he will figure out a way to get open.

 

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