The Miami Dolphins upgraded their wide receiver room with the No. 6 overall pick when they selected former Alabama pass catcher Jaylen Waddle, who might end up as the top player at his position in this class. Waddle does not have college statistics that will jump off the page for various reasons, but he has the talent to make a significant difference at the professional level.
Waddle played in just six games for Alabama in 2020 as he went down with an ankle injury midway through the season. He returned for the national title game, though he was significantly limited. On the season, he caught 28 balls for 591 yards and four touchdowns. With the injury and playing with a wide receiver room with tons of NFL talent, Waddle’s numbers could’ve been much better in his college career than what they are.
Waddle’s speed is off the charts and is likely the No. 1 reason the Dolphins went after him. His expertise on the deep ball should translate well to the NFL with the speed to get open down the field and adjusts very well when the ball is in the air. Waddle figures to be a handful for opposing cornerbacks even early on in his career.
As far as potential weaknesses, Waddle played in one of the top offenses in college, so maybe there could be a slip in production when the entire offense doesn’t have a significant talent advantage over the defense. Additionally, he stands at just 5-foot-9, but the Dolphins does not need to worry because they picked a stud.
Fantasy football impact
The Dolphins have a solid WR1 in DeVante Parker, and now they’ve got someone to play opposite him. Parker was the only wideout who eclipsed 400 receiving yards for Miami last year. Waddle can help take the top off the defense with his blazing speed, but Tua Tagovailoa will have to improve significantly to maximize his potential. We saw Henry Ruggs III fall by the wayside with the Oakland Raiders last season, and something similar could happen to Waddle. His floor could be raised by his ability to contribute on special teams, but his lack of experience as a go-to guy is concerning. Waddle could be a decent WR2 or WR3 in Year 1, but you shouldn’t get too ambitious when drafting him.
Waddle’s ability to eat up yards after the catch makes him exciting and Miami will likely get creative with him as he gets accustomed to the NFL. Waddle is more than a gadget player and has a nose for the end zone. He could become a top-tier wideout in a few years, but being in a system that can get him the ball in space will be essential to his production.