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2021 Miami Dolphins draft picks: The Phinsider staff reacts to Jaylen Waddle selection

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This morning, we posted some of the fan’s reactions to the Miami Dolphins' first two draft picks. We can say that emotions were mixed. It was exactly what you’ve come to expect from this loyal fanbase. But what do the writers of The Phinsider have to say about the team selecting Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle with the sixth-overall pick? Were there other players they preferred? How does Waddle fit alongside Miami’s current stable of wide receivers?

Our discussion included Josh Houtz, Justin Hier, Craig T. Smith, James McKinney, and Kevin Nogle. Houtz opened it up, taking a look at the smokescreens that carried us from January through to last night.

Houtz: “The Dolphins’ plan all along was to draft a play-making wide receiver. Which wide receiver, however, was the actual mystery. I thought the pick would be DeVonta Smith. Others thought they might prefer Ja’Marr Chase, or maybe they would try to trade up for Kyle Pitts. But when the dust settled, Brian Flores and Chris Grier got the explosive playmaker the team had long hoped.”

Nogle: “It was strange, but kind of fits the Dolphins’ style the last few years, how much changed about who the team really liked. Think about how many times we heard all about the Dolphins targeting a quarterback in 2019 and how they were not looking at Tua Tagovailoa last year, even though it always came back to the pick everyone knew was the right now. In this case, there was so much off season talk about the team looking at offensive linemen or even another quarterback, and yet it always was going to be a receiver. After the National Championship game, Smith was the guy, but as we got closer and closer to the Draft, Smith seemed to fall away. Ignoring the Pitts possibility, this really did come down to one simple thing, I think. The Dolphins want that explosiveness this offense was missing last year.”

Smith: “I cursed out loud when Kyle Pitts was taken. It’ll be interesting to see if the extra picks they ultimately netted to wind up at 6 turn out to be more valuable than having stayed put and taking what I think is the best overall player in this draft. Pitts is a future All-Pro.”

McKinney: “I most wanted Pitts but alas we don’t always get what we want in life.”

Hier: “Jaylen Waddle has elite speed and game-breaking run-after-catch ability. We all know this. He adds an element to Miami’s offense that was sorely missing last season and should pair perfectly with DeVante Parker and Will Fuller in three-wide sets. Am I surprised Miami passed up on Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith after the absolutely bonkers season he had last year? Kinda. Does that mean I’m disappointed with Waddle as an addition to Miami’s offense as a piece that should very much help Tua Tagovailoa’s development? Absolutely not.”

McKinney: “Waddle was a good selection given what had gone off the board although I would have also liked the team to have strongly looked at picking Penei Sewell as he’s clearly a guy that can lock down a position on the offensive line for the next decade. Waddle gives the team a weapon that their starting quarterback is familiar with and more speed on offense and, as Jimmy Johnson always said all the way back to his days at the U, speed kills. Waddle also gives the team a wideout with an amazing Y.A.C. average. Something that wide receivers with this team have struggled with in the recent past.”

Nogle: “Waddle also brings another piece that was missing last year - separation. He is going to tear across the middle of the defense with guys struggling to keep up with him. He is not a pure slot receiver, though people will say that because of his size, and the Dolphins will look to move him around a lot. I could see DeVante Parker sliding inside about as often as Waddle is in the slot. The Dolphins use Jakeem Grant outside. Why would we think Waddle would not be playing out there?”

Hier: “Will Fuller, Parker, Waddle, and Mike Gesicki make for a downright dangerous pass-catching corps. There are plenty of different skill sets on the table. This offense should be fun to watch.”

Nogle: “The amoeba defense may bleed over to an amoeba offense. Those four guys on the field - plus Myles Gaskin or a drafted running back - can line up all over the field. Miami can give so many different looks without substitutions.”

Houtz: “Some analysts believe Waddle is the closest thing to Kansas City Chiefs star wide receiver Tyreek Hill that has come out since the speedster himself. Regardless of how you feel about the pick, you can’t deny what he will bring to Miami’s offense: SPEED! SPEED! SPEED! Waddle is lightning in a bottle, and adding him to a unit that consists of Fuller, Parker, Preston Williams, Lynn Bowden, and the rest of Miami’s receiving corps, the sky is indeed the limit.”

Smith: “We all know Miami had to get more explosive on offense, and they did that with Waddle. They could’ve had either Waddle or DeVonta Smith, and it’s tough to knock the pick, as Waddle is Tyreek Hill-esque, able to take it to the house in the passing game and on special teams. Some note Smith is the more polished receiver over Waddle. However, I think there are plenty of wide receivers who are more polished than Hill technically, and there aren’t many other receivers you’d rather have over Hill in the entire league. If Waddle is of that ilk, then this will be a long-revered pick.”

Nogle: “The reports after the pick were Waddle was Miami’s top choice at receiver, even over Ja’Marr Chase. I know everyone says they got their guy, but people I have never heard buy into that kind of talk seem to really believe Miami wanted Waddle and that is why they were good with the three-position drop.”

Houtz: “Or at least that’s the story they’re telling, and who am I to question them? After all, people were more intelligent than you and I that believed Waddle could be the most dynamic wide receiver in this class.”

Nogle: “Absolutely. I knew Miami was leaning Waddle over Smith, which I knew some would not like, so once Pitts and Chase were off the board, I assumed he was the pick. I would love to know if it would still have been Waddle if Chase had still been available, but obviously we will never know that.”

Houtz: “Oh, and how could we forget to mention Jaylen Waddle is now reunited with his college quarterback Tua Tagovailoa—who I’m sure had absolutely no input on the pick. I, like most Dolphins fans, am excited about the Jaylen Waddle selection.”

Nogle: “I am surprised it took us this long to mention the Waddle-Tagovailoa connection. I pointed out on Twitter after the pick as people were complaining it was not Smith that the Dolphins have an ability to have simply asked Tagovailoa who he preferred. I would assume they did that.”

Make sure you check back later to see our discussion on Miami’s second first-round pick, Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips.