Dolphins draft speedy receiver Jaylen Waddle sixth overall as target for Tua
DAVIE — The Dolphins landed a receiver with the No. 6 overall draft pick Thursday night when they selected Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, who instantly becomes one of the fastest players in team history.
Waddle will be reunited with Tua Tagovailoa, his former collegiate quarterback.
"We’re going to do our best to try to make plays and hopefully we can make it happen," Waddle said. "I'm trying to be a part of something special."
INSTANT ANALYSIS:Schad: Jaylen Waddle an exciting, intriguing, dynamic Dolphins selection
HOW FAST IS HE? No 40 time for Jaylen Waddle? No problem for NFL teams, who check the GPS
Waddle has drawn comparisons to Tyreek Hill
Waddle, 5-feet-9 1/2 and 180 pounds, did not run the 40 at the Crimson Tide’s pro day because he was coming off a broken ankle suffered last season. But no stopwatch is necessary to know teams will have to respect his speed. Waddle has been compared to Kansas City game-breaker Tyreek Hill.
“If there’s a big play out there, I think I can make it,” Waddle said.
And apparently he's ready to do it right away.
"I'm good," he said when asked for an update on his health. "I'm ready to go."
The Dolphins selected Waddle after Atlanta, picking fourth, took Florida tight end Kyle Pitts and Cincinnati, next up, went for LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase, making for yet another receiver-QB reunion on the NFL level since he'll be catching passes from Joe Burrow.
By picking Waddle, the Dolphins passed on taking his Crimson Tide teammate, Heisman-winning receiver DeVonta Smith, who went 10th to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Dolphins hope Waddle will help Tua Tagovailoa
The Dolphins' passing attack ranked 20th in the NFL last season, often bogged down by receivers' inability to gain separation — a problem that should vanish quickly.
Waddle said his chemistry with Tagovailoa "is there, for sure, but it definitely needs to improve. It's good to be familiar with him, but we'll try to build it day by day."
Waddle’s addition gives Tagovailoa plenty of options when he looks downfield. Waddle joins DeVante Parker and free-agent addition Will Fuller in a formidable receiving corps that includes Preston Williams, who is coming off knee surgery, and veterans Jakeem Grant, Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson.
“Your eyes aren’t deceiving you when you watch him,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “He’s freaky fast."
Waddle is quite familiar with the comparisons to Hill.
"I get a lot of comparisons to Tyreek just because of the small size and I'm able to be a runner," Waddle said. "But I want to be my own player and try to play the game I play and try to do it in my own style, not be playing someone else's style."
Coming out of Episcopal High in Houston, Waddle had 45 receptions for 848 yards (18.8 average) and seven touchdowns as a freshman in 2018. He also returned 16 punts for 233 yards (14.6) and one touchdown.
In 2019, Waddle had 33 receptions for 560 yards (17.0) and six TDs behind first-round picks Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III. Waddle was a 2019 second-team Associated Press All-American and the SEC special teams player of the year, having averaged 24.4 yards on 20 punt returns. He also averaged 35.0 yards on five kickoff returns.
As a junior, Waddle had 28 catches for 591 yards (21.2) and four TDs before injuring his ankle and missing six games.
NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein wrote of Waddle, “Thrilling, game-breaking talent who will come into the league as one of the fastest receivers to ever play the game. His whereabouts pre-snap and post-snap must be accounted for at all times. Despite his size, he's a legitimate outside option, thanks to his ability to not only take the top off the defense, but also go up and win 50-50 throws. Waddle's adept at working all three levels, so it will be tough for defenses to predict how offenses will utilize him, as he has the potential to post a higher catch volume in the right offense. Waddle can instantly upgrade a team's scoring potential, whether it's with the deep ball, the catch-and-run or as a return man.”
2021 NFL Draft
Friday-Saturday in Cleveland
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