We've all seen and read the analysis on all the Miami Dolphins draft picks, but to get the real lowdown on each prospect, we went straight to those who have covered those players on a regular basis in college.
In this case, who better than Bama Central Publisher Christopher Walsh to give the scoop on first-round pick Jaylen Waddle, the wide receiver from the University of Alabama.
What's your quick scouting report on Waddle?
“Now, Jaylen is an incredible talent obviously. He easily was the most exciting player in the draft this past year. There was a lot of talk around Alabama, Tuscaloosa, about the way he started last year … he might be the guy that really is the one who emerges out of that offense. And then of course he got injured and DeVonta Smith was the one who stepped up. DeVonta is a better wide receiver overall but Jaylen, it's just that speed factor is just so incredible. And there's really no way to answer it. And, to be honest, I don't know how defenses are going to do it. And the other thing about that is, the real big winner isn't just necessarily Waddle, you know Tua has got now a receiver that he is familiar with, who can go the distance on any given play. And so you're gonna see a lot of times they're just going to try to get Jaylen the ball in open space, and that's all he needs. And that is going to make a huge difference with that offense, and also with Tagovailoa’s confidence.”
Why do you think the Dolphins eventually decided on Waddle as their choice?
“Yeah, well, for what they wanted to do … I've been going back and forth on this a lot obviously (with DeVonta Smith) and also with Ja’Marr Chase. And for me, it really came down to, what does a team need the most in terms of which guy should have been first on the draft board between the three of them? And so for the Dolphins, yeah, I think this is a perfect fit because Waddle is going to make the other receivers so much better and you can't focus on any of them anymore. You're going to have to do something to try to counter Waddle and it's going to be a huge distraction on any given play. So I like the move. I mean, I think if they had taken DeVonta Smith, it would have been a great pick. I think if they had taken Ja’marr Chase, it would have been a great pick. But specific to the team needs and what they think they can get out of it, I can't argue with the pick at all. I think it's a great one.”
Were there any injury issues at Alabama before last season?
“No, no, not at all. And that return that he got hurt on against Tennessee, they actually didn't want him to return the ball on that one; he kind of did it on his own. And it was kind of a fluke play as well. It's a 'what are you going to do' kind of thing. And so many people were like, well, maybe you shouldn't have had him on special teams. He was only the best special teams player in college football. I mean, you don't take that away. It's such a valuable weapon. As a punt returner he is just … he’s incredible. He can return any punt up for a touchdown, and deep ball, short ball, anything. Anytime they can get into the ball in any sort of a space, he's a threat to go the distance.”
Is there any concern that Waddle (5-10, 182) might be a bit undersized for the NFL?
“I was making this point before the draft, everyone was talking about how DeVonta Smith was undersized; no one was mentioning that Jaylen Waddle was undersized as well. I think he'll be fine. He's got a little extra weight on him. He is closer to 180 with a little more … I don't want to say bulk, because he obviously doesn't have a lot of bulk, but from what we've seen at Alabama, he should be fine in terms of durability at the next level.”
How would you describe Waddle's skill set?
“Jaylen can do a lot of things. He can go up and get a ball; he played in an offense where everybody blocked for each other. You aren't going to get on the field at Alabama unless you do all the other things. It's just the way that Nick Saban operates. It's the same at running back, it's the same at tight end and so forth down the line. So, he is a complete player. The thing was if it's any other team that he would have been on (in 2019) … I mean, they had Jerry Jeudy, they had Henry Ruggs, they had DeVonta Smith, and the key was all three of those guys had an extra year of experience on Jaylen Waddle and that was the biggest reason why he wasn't starting. So, if he had come in at any other time and didn't have those three guys in front of them he would have been starting all along.”