Miami Dolphins rookie Jaylen Waddle has been an excellent addition to the offense, and has a chance to hit a historic statistical mark this season.
The Miami Dolphins have been enjoying quite the resurgence over the last month. They have improved in nearly every aspect of the game, and some of the standout players that are contributing to wins are the crop of rookies that the team drafted in April 2021. Defensively, Jaelan Phillips has sacked the quarterback seven times during the five-game winning streak, and Jevon Holland is routinely ranked as one of the highest performing safeties in the league week after week.
But the true gem of the most recent draft is Jaylen Waddle. The receiver has lived up to his billing as a 6th overall pick, becoming the premiere target for the offense and putting up numbers at a historical rate.
The manner in which the offensive coordinators have utilized Waddle has been in question the entire season, but that hasn’t stopped him from being productive. His speed was supposed to take the top off of defenses and give Miami an option for the deep ball, but limitations within the offensive personnel have turned him in to more of a possession receiver, for the time being.
He has thrived in the role that no one saw him playing. Combined with Tua Tagovailoa’s pinpoint accuracy, the quick slant to Waddle has been nearly unguardable for defenses, and is routinely one of the go-to plays for Miami in the passing game. The long-built chemistry between quarterback and receiver has been obvious, and has led Waddle to break not only team receiving records, but he has his eye on a league-wide one as well.
During Sunday’s nine-catch performance in a win over the New York Giants, Waddle set the Dolphins’ franchise record for most catches by a rookie, surpassing the 84 that Jarvis Landry caught back in 2014. While being the team leader is certainly an accomplishment, Waddle has a real chance of reaching an even more important milestone.
If he is able to amass 16 more catches, then Waddle will surpass Anquan Boldin’s 2002 rookie record of 101 receptions in a season. He already has the third most catches of any rookie wide out since 2016, and is only 7 receptions from moving in to second place on the list.
Given his production and the amount of targets that go Waddle’s way, there should be nothing standing in his way of the record other than an unforeseen injury. The Dolphins have four games remaining, meaning that he’d need to average just four catches per to hit the mark. Waddle hasn’t caught less than four passes in over eight weeks, and has 26 receptions in just the last three contests.
Waddle (and the fan base) encountered a scare this last Sunday when he headed in to the locker room after pointing down at his leg following a big catch. But he returned to action and chalked up the short absence to experiencing a cramp, meaning that he should be good to go when the Miami Dolphins take the field after their bye week.