Jaylen Waddle was the sixth overall pick in 2021. He was brought in by the Miami Dolphins with the expectation of being a number one option as a speed threat and slot receiver who could stretch the field. He has exceeded those expectations and is now one of the best receivers in the NFL.
Last season Waddle was extremely durable and started every game last year. He was a big part of the offense as he went on his way to put up some of the best numbers of his career. He thrived in Coach Mike McDaniels offensive system. As he set new career highs in yards per reception averaging just under 19 and in receiving yards with 1,356. His reception total was down, but that is because the Dolphins added Tyreek Hill who was the number one option. Waddle through two years has shown the ability to be a speed threat as a number two option, or be a legitimate number one option out wide.
Hill would be a $7.3 million cap hit with $16 million in dead money if he was to be released. He obviously will not be released, but he is cheap right now. His contract ends in 2024. After that, the Dolphins will have to pony up and pay the man. He has earned it up until this point, and I do not see any signs of him slowing down.
Expectations for Waddle and this Dolphins offense are high entering 2023. The league got a taste of what this offense can do at the start of last year. Waddle and Hill are the fastest wide receiver duo in the NFL. Waddle is going to be a big play threat again in 2023. It will be interesting if they use him as more of a reception receiver at points during the season to give defenses a different look.
It will be tough for him to replicate what he did last year now that defenses have a season worth of film on him and this offense. Just under 19 yards per reception is a ridiculous expectation to have for anyone, but I would expect that number to hover around 15.
If Tua Tagovailoa can stay healthy and be Waddle’s quarterback through the entire 2023 season, he could exceed expectations. He is one of the fastest players in the league, and McDaniel does an impressive job of getting him the ball in space.
He has no reason to not meet the expectation set before him. The only way he will not have a productive year is if he has an injury, or if Tagovailoa misses a lot of time. Even then, he can still be productive. I fully expect Waddle to continue being one of the premier young receivers in the NFL.