Alabama Football: Jaylen Waddle poised for elite rookie year

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Alabama football’s Jaylen Waddle goes early in the 2021 NFL Draft

When you look at Jaylen Waddle’s numbers with Alabama football, he left a lot on the table due to depth and injuries. He never had a stat-filled season like Calvin Ridley or DeVonta Smith, but he may be the most talented receiver to ever come through the program.

Because of that, he did not have to wait long to hear his name called in the 2021 NFL Draft. Waddle was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the first round.

Waddle is an electric receiver. He averaged almost half the field on his touchdown catches in college, and his speed is unique. You can coach technique and routes, but 99% of NFL players will never get close to being as fast as Jaylen Waddle.

Obviously, Waddle’s ankle injury did not hurt his NFL Draft evaluation. He missed most of the 2020 season, but he managed to come back and contribute in the national championship. He was clearly not 100%, but his determination to return and play in an Alabama football jersey left an imprint on Tide fans. It must have left an imprint on NFL executives as well.

Waddle will dominate in the slot. He’s a bit undersized, but his speed and aggression are rare. He can play on the outside in certain scenarios, but he was mostly a slot receiver for Alabama football.

Jaylen Waddle will also impact special teams. He was the best punt returner in college football in 2019, and he would have been in 2020 if he stayed healthy. Since he got injured on a kick return, it will be interesting to see how much he does on special teams as a rookie.

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Waddle had an underutilized Alabama football career, but he will shine in the NFL. Now that he finally knows where to call home, he can focus on getting ready for the 2021 season.