Alabama Football: DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle in the 2021 NFL Draft?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Which Alabama football receiver is the better NFL Draft prospect?

The 2021 NFL Draft is almost here, and everyone is analyzing what will happen. The draft will change the NFL for the foreseeable future, and we are less than a month away from where hypotheticals turn into reality. As always, Alabama football players are at the forefront of these debates. 

There are many Tide players who will be drafted, but two that will be off the board early are Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith. While their playstyles are different, these players will be compared by NFL teams. If they choose one Alabama football receiver, they are actively choosing against another.

So, who is a better NFL Draft prospect?

The case for DeVonta Smith

Smitty has produced over four years of college. He made a difference from his freshman year to his senior year. He is also coming off one of the best college years in the history of football and won the Heisman Trophy.

With his smooth routes and strong hands, Smith has a skill set that fits with almost any NFL team. He would be an asset anywhere. He also has less of an injury history, which matters when you’re signing on to keep the rights to a player for at least seven years.

The case for Jaylen Waddle

While Smith is fast, Jaylen Waddle is on a different level. His speed cannot be taught, and only a small handful of NFL players have it.

Waddle also has a bigger frame. Smith might be taller, but his weight is a concern.

Also, Jaylen Waddle is better on special teams. Both can make an impact, but Waddle naturally thrives as a punt returner. He started as a junior and flipped the field on multiple occasions.

Smith has better production, but Jaylen Waddle never got a chance to truly thrive with Alabama football. He was buried on the depth chart. The only time both receivers were seeing similar reps was at the start of 2020, and Waddle had significantly more production. After his injury, Smith went on to have a surge that won him the Heisman Trophy.

So… Who is better?

Scheme fit matters so much with these prospects. If Jaylen Waddle finds the right offense, he could be the next Tyreek Hill. If he is drafted by a team that relies on underneath throws, he might be used as a decoy down the field. He needs a quarterback who can throw the deep ball, but he will be electric if he finds that landing spot.

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Because of this, DeVonta Smith has the better chance of succeeding as a pure prospect. However, Waddle has the higher ceiling. At the end of the day, both proved with Alabama football that they have what it takes to win at the next level.