When Jaylen Waddle was taken 6th overall by the Miami Dolphins last Thursday, some fans were left with questions. Why didn’t we stay put at 12 and see if Waddle slipped to us? Why did we trade down in the first place and give up the chance to take Ja’Marr Chase or Kyle Pitts? Why not take Davonte Smith at 6? The answer to all these questions is simple…scarcity.
There are three players in the league with the ability to take a 2-yard shallow cross to the house: Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, and now Jaylen Waddle. It’s not just the speed that impressed scouts. John Ross, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tavon Austin, and countless others have had speed. What separates Waddle is his lateral agility, sharp breaks, and ability to separate from defenders.
What impresses me more than anything is his ability to get up to full speed in two steps, stop on a dime, and then accelerate again, all in a matter of a second. We know he’ll be dangerous in the screen game, but he has the potential to be devastating on double-moves when Tua is given time in the pocket. When targeting Waddle at Alabama, Tua had a 74% completion percentage, 137.9 passer rating, and 16.6 yards per completion.
Jaylen Waddle blew past defenders while at Alabama. He made defenders look like extras in a poorly choreographed Friday Night Light’s play sequence. During his three seasons, Waddle averaged 9.8 yards after catch (YAC). This was the most of any Power-5 receiver since 2014.
Waddle showed grit in coming back from his ankle fracture to play in the National Championship game in January. No doubt this resonated with Chris Grier and Brian Flores in their draft considerations. Nick Saban likened his competitiveness and impact on the team to that of Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, and Michael Jordan…unusually high praise coming from the icy coach.
Now that we have a good feel for what he is bringing to Miami, let’s try to answer those post-draft questions postulated earlier.