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FILM | Jaylen Waddle might be most electrifying player the Dolphins ever had

The Film Don’t Lie

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL draft is officially in the rearview mirror, and that means it is time to start grinding the tape on the Miami Dolphins' latest rookie class. (Revisit, may be a better word)

First up, I take a look at one of the most explosive players to come out of college football in years. A player can make an immediate impact both as a return man and a wide receiver for the Dolphins in 2021.

Here’s my film breakdown on Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle.


Jaylen Waddle, Wide Receiver, Alabama

Hometown | Houston, Texas

College | Alabama

Age | 22

Height | 5-10

Weight | 182 lbs

2020 Stats | 28 receptions, 591 yards (21.1YPC), 6 touchdowns.

Heading into the 2021 NFL offseason, everyone knew that if the Miami Dolphins hoped to take the next step this season, they would have to surround their starting quarterback with the necessary weapons to succeed.

Many argued for months over who the team would select. Could it be Kyle Pitts? Maybe LSU star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase? DeVonta Smith? Penei Sewell?

When the dust settled, Chris Grier landed the player the Miami Dolphins reportedly wanted from the very beginning. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Jaylen Waddle was the No.2 rated prospect on Miami’s draft board.

I admittedly thought DeVonta Smith would be the pick had the board fallen the way it did—even after Pro Football Network’s Matthew Cannata joined Phinsider Radio to tell the world, it would be Jaylen Waddle. But now, after having several days to stew and adequate time to revisit his 2020 tape, I can confidently say I think the Dolphins did the right thing. Because, as the title suggests, Jaylen Waddle is unlike any receiver the Dolphins have ever had.

Let’s check it out!


FILM ROOM

Jaylen Waddle vs. Missouri

8 catches, 134 yards (16.8 YPC), 2 touchdowns.

Analysis | The first thing you will notice in most of these videos is Jaylen Waddle’s speed + Mac Jones arm strength = No Bueno. Far too often, the ball would get to Waddle late. Sometimes that would force him to slow down; other times, it would make an easy catch far more difficult than it needs to be. But enough about Mac Jones, let’s talk about the Dolphins' newest playmaker. In this video, you can see the different gear that Waddle possesses compared to the rest of the wide receiver class. Defensive backs struggle to keep up, and players struggle to bring him down. He also plays much bigger than his 5-10 stature and has the skills to go up and get the football. Waddle’s speed and vision with the ball in his hands are second to none, and I think it’s clear to see why the Miami Dolphins chose to add a playmaker like Waddle at No.6.

Jaylen Waddle vs. Texas A&M

5 catches, 142 yards (28.4 YPC), 1 touchdown.

Analysis | I hope that when the Dolphins drafted Jaylen Waddle, they planned to move him around in a similar way to that of Alabama a season ago. The video above is a perfect example of how a good offensive coordinator will scheme ways to get the ball into his playmaker's hands, and Waddle is a playmaker. Pre-snap motion, designed gadget plays, jet sweeps, bubble screens...the list goes on and on. Frye did a good job of utilizing pre-snap motion and RPO concepts at Central Michigan. His blueprint will be as important as any if the Dolphins' offense hopes to take the next step. Waddle reunited with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami—running an offense eerily similar to the one currently dominating college football. I think we’d all sign up for that.

Jaylen Waddle vs. Ole Miss

6 catches, 120 yards (20 YPC).

Analysis | Shortly after the Dolphins signed Will Fuller in free agency, I took a step back and wondered to myself, how did no one see this coming? I mean, Fuller embodies everything Miami’s receivers lacked in 2020. He can create separation, he’s fast, and best of all, his route running is among the best on the team. He does things the other receivers on the roster do not. Fuller was a perfect complement to the receivers already on the roster. The same can now be said for Dolphins’ wide receiver Jaylen Waddle. Yes, some draft analysts believed he was the right fit in Miami from day one, but when you look at how his speed alone will affect the passing game—it makes so much sense. Waddle can take the top off of any defense and forces opposing teams to account for him no matter where he is on the field. Get. Him. The. Football.

Jaylen Waddle vs. Georgia

6 catches, 161 yards (26.8 YPC), 1 touchdown.

Analysis | There’s a lot to take away from this video, specifically. First, we see how hard it is to stop Jaylen Waddle when he’s working the middle of the field and finding the soft spots in coverage. We also see how difficult it is to cover him one on one, without a safety over the top. The point is, Jaylen Waddle can win in several ways. However, there is always one common theme with how he beats defensive backs, and that is speed! The big 90+ yard touchdown is most impressive because he just blows by everyone. You get the Tyreek Hill comps, but as Waddle said, he wants to be his own player—

“Yeah, I get a lot of comparisons to Tyreek (Hill), just because of my small size and being able to be a runner; but I want to be my own player and try to play the game that I play and try to do my own style and not try to emulate someone else’s style. So I think I’m going to try to be the player that I always have and try to make plays for the team, and just try to put the team in a position to win.”

Bonus Film

PROS

+ Speed! Speed! Speed!

+ Four-down player with big-play potential every time he touches the football.

+ True slot wide receiver, who played 92 snaps on the outside in 2020

+ Full route-tree

+ Keeps defenses honest

+ unguardable at times

+ Has chemistry with QB1 #Tua’sFriend

CONS

- small sample size (less than 1k snaps)

- recovering from an ankle injury.

- only 5-10, 182 lbs.

- hesitant to trust that this coaching staff can utilize him properly.

#ReceptionPerception

PFF Grades

Pro Football Focus

Conclusion

We won’t ever know if Miami had Jaylen Waddle ranked as their No.2 overall prospect, and we won’t ever know what the team would’ve done had Atlanta passed on Kyle Pitts or if Cincinnati drafted anyone other than Ja’Marr Chase. The one thing we do know is that when it came down to DeVonta Smith vs. Jaylen Waddle—the team already knew which wide receiver they preferred.

Adding Waddle to an offense that already consists of DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Preston Williams (when healthy), Mike Gesicki, Lynn Bowden, and the rest of Miami's skill players is going to be fun to watch. I mean, how are defensive coordinators supposed to game-plan for a receiving corps of this caliber? With Parker and Preston on the outside and Mike Gesicki working the middle of the field, Waddle should feast in Miami’s passing attack.

It may take some time for Jaylen Waddle to get acclimated to the NFL game, but once he does, I’m confident he will be unlike any other player the Miami Dolphins fanbase has ever seen.

P.S (The Title should actually be Jaylen Waddle might be is the most electrifying player the Dolphins ever had)