Jaylen Waddle NFL Draft 2021 Prospect Profile: WR A First-Round Lock
This is The Game Day’s Jaylen Waddle NFL Draft 2021 Prospect Profile. After you read our Jaylen Waddle Scouting Report, Marcus Mosher’s first 2021 NFL Mock Draft for Round 1.
Jaylen Waddle NFL Draft Prospect Profile
Jaylen Waddle NFL Draft Prospect: Bio & Measurables
- School: Alabama
- Class in Final Season: Junior
- Age on NFL Draft Day: 22
- Height: 5-foot-10
- Weight: 183 lbs.
Jaylen Waddle Scouting Report
- Pedigree. Highly recruited out of high school
- Jump-ball ability
- Also utilized as a kick and punt returner
- Career statistics are underwhelming
- Older prospect, 22 years old as a junior (only two weeks younger than DeVonta Smith)
- Broken ankle in October 2020
Jaylen Waddle College Career
During his first two seasons at Bama, Waddle was stuck playing behind veteran receivers Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III and Smith, all of whom were one class ahead of him. Nevertheless, as a true freshman, Waddle produced 848 receiving yards and 7 TD on just 45 receptions. That was the 2nd-most yards and 3rd-most receptions and TD among all pass-catchers. An impressive feat but unfortunately, Waddle could not replicate that production in his next season.
went back to watch the 2018 SEC Championship I missed out on and it just re-affirmed my love for Jaylen Waddle
so excited for a year of him as a full starter pic.twitter.com/Aa63LrY49i
— Kev Mahserejian (@RotoSurgeon) July 5, 2020
Waddle was obstructed by a sophomore slump of sorts. Whether that be a coaching decision to prop-up the draft-eligible group of Jeudy/Ruggs/Smith or a fault of Waddle’s own due to shortcomings in practice, it is a knock to see a usage dip during a healthy season. Down the totem pole and in two fewer games than 2018, Waddle piled together just the 4th-most receiving yards and receptions on the team. He took on more returning duties as the occasional kick returner and primary punt returner, bringing back 2 of 25 attempts for a touchdown and averaging 26.5 yards per return.
Waddle can weave his way through defenders. TOUCHDOWN Bama. pic.twitter.com/AMfuwMpG1G
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 12, 2019
As a draft-eligible junior, Waddle exploded onto the scene in spectacular fashion. His first four games of 2020 will leave a massive “what-if” in the minds of everyone who watched, hoping for season-long dominance. Waddle put together a dominant stretch versus SEC competition that outproduced future Heisman Trophy winner, Smith. He did not accrue fewer than 120 yards in any game and only failed to score once.
To everyone’s dismay, Waddle broke his ankle on a return in the fifth game versus Tennessee on October 24th. He had surgery afterward and was effectively ruled out for the remainder of the season. However, after a successful rehab process and pure heart, Waddle managed to bring himself to activation just less than three months later to play in the National Championship game.
He did not look like himself versus Ohio State but realistically, he should never have been active for that game. He wanted to be out there with his brothers to help contribute to a title while showing resilience. This is admirable but foolhardy on the part of Bama’s medical staff and Waddle’s personal team for letting him out there. In pre-game warm-ups, Waddle looked gimpy. Luckily, he came out unscathed and should be 100% by NFL offseason workouts.
His broken ankle is absolutely a concern. Anytime an athlete suffers an injury of that magnitude, you have to be worried about long-term ramifications whether it be physical or mental. Simply even trusting their leg becomes arduous. It may even result in overcompensation and damage elsewhere.
Fantasy Football Outlook
Waddle will be an interesting fantasy prospect. While he should be a first-round pick commanding about triple-digit targets yearly with work coming as a returner and rusher, he may not be the most traditional WR1. He is more than just a Desean Jackson-style burner, Waddle’s frame makes it difficult to project high-end yearly targets. The target range for Waddle will likely be between 100-130 rather than 140-170.
He will do more with what he sees than most other receivers but for fantasy, the volume is king. He will either need to touch the ball dozens of times yearly as a rusher or see high-target volume in the red-zone for “elite” fantasy production to come about.
Waddle is an alpha WR in the sense that he is a dominant threat who can take on the best any defense has to give but he is likely not one in the fantasy-sense unless his future team is to be decimated in their skill-room. Receivers like him are necessary to keep defenses honest by taking the top off of the secondary and creating spacing for the rest of the offense to operate but are not utilized heavily because of how often they go deep and how teams seldom throw deep.
Waddle is talented and shifty enough to do more than *just* run go-routes. You are not pigeonholed with a player like him. Waddle can be lined up outside or in and used on screens as well given his ability to navigate blockers and defensive personnel.
His size is much less of a concern than fellow WR DeVonta Smith despite being 3 inches shorter. Waddle (183lbs) actually weighs more than Smith (175lbs) and has a body much more NFL-ready with a skill-set just as potent, if not more. Short players come with a naturally perceived disadvantage but at 5’10” he is not THAT short.
NFL Player Comparison
Brandin Cooks. A little TOO on the nose given that these two are about the same height and weight but the speed that each provides is overwhelming. Cooks had significantly more production in college but that does not matter given that he played versus PAC-12 his entire career. Both came out of school as true juniors and Waddle will likely be a first-round pick like Cooks. This comp is not too shabby for Waddle’s potential production either.
It is wholly unfair (and likely untrue) to make the more common Tyreek Hill comparison given that Hill’s body is much thicker and he possesses elite tackle-breaking ability. For this Jaylen Waddle Scouting Report, we will stick with the Cooks comparison.
Jaylen Waddle NFL Draft Team Fits
The Lions are not only desperate for speed but wide receivers in general. They are set to lose Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. to free agency while being left with a corps of Quintez Cephus and Danny Amendola. Detroit does have weapons in T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift but they will be much harder to key-in on with the addition of a WR1 like Waddle. Waddle’s speed and skill will force defenses to adjust their entire game-plans to him, opening up the rest of the field for Jared Goff (or whomever in the future) to operate.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers need receivers because franchise QB Justin Herbert can not do it all on his own. While Keenan Allen is a top-15 dude, we have not seen enough from Mike Williams to set him in stone as a legitimate option. The possible loss of Hunter Henry is not a back-breaker but leaves LAC barren at pass-catcher. Waddle could step right in as this team’s WR2 and take the load off of Allen and Austin Ekeler who have been laboring as short-to-intermediary targets these past few years.
New England Patriots
The Pats are desperate for a competent WR room. While Jakobi Meyers looks solid and N’Keal Harry is still young, they lack what Waddle provides, speed. You need receivers who can separate downfield to possess a good passing game in the NFL, full stop. Offenses that run on dinking-and-dunking on top of a good rushing attack typically lean towards the bottom-of-the-barrel with regards to efficiency. Adding Waddle (and a QB) to the Patriots’ offense would do wonders.
Jaylen Waddle NFL Draft Prediction
Round 1, Pick 13: Los Angeles Chargers
For all intents and purposes, Waddle is a first-round prospect. The only way he falls is if his medicals are an issue, something re-occurs with his ankle (unlikely), or he is the absolute worst interview possible. Even so, there will undoubtedly be a team willing to take a shot on the most electric athlete in the 2021 class. There are going to be questions about his age and lack of production throughout his career leading up to the draft but good teams are smart enough to contextualize those situations.
watching Jaylen Waddle highlights vs Mizzou and can confidently say that he’s the best Bama WR since Julio
the movement skills and ability to catch in traffic are unmatched, dude deserves to go top-10 pic.twitter.com/bwJTYHebov
— Kev Mahserejian (@RotoSurgeon) September 28, 2020
No odds currently exist on the marketplace for draft slots beyond the first three picks but once they do come about as we get closer to the draft, keep an eye on Waddle whose stock could skyrocket with health reports and enamored teams similar to Ruggs III who shockingly went as the first WR off of the board in 2020. Waddle is not only a first-rounder but bet on him going top-15.
Now that you’ve read our Jaylen Waddle 2021 Draft Prospect scouting report, stay tuned for more NFL Draft analysis. Then, after the 2021 NFL Draft, we’ll cover his impact on betting lines, odds and tips for his NFL team.
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