The NFL has changed over recent years, and there’s a true “need for speed.” Players like Tyreek Hill are able to make a significant impact on the game plan for opposing defenses purely based on this one elite trait.
While we’ve seen other athletes enter the NFL historically that have game-changing speed, they lack the other necessary traits to complement their this ability. The need to be diverse enough to build off their acceleration and keep defenses on their heels is incredibly important. This is where Waddle shines.
Waddle has game-changing speed, and this shows up all over his film. However, he pairs that speed with great hands and solid route-running ability. He can help an NFL offense move the chains underneath by picking up yards after the catch, or he can be sent deep on a post route and haul in a tough contested catch.
There are going to be very few players in the NFL that have the athleticism that Jaylen Waddle has, but he’s much more than just a pure speed player. How valuable is his skillset to today’s NFL, though? Can he be a featured option in an NFL offense?
Those questions are answered here in our scouting profile on Jaylen Waddle:
Jaylen Waddle, Alabama
Weight: 182 lbs.
Skills Breakdown (out of 100)
Route Running (75): Waddle is a perfect fit for today’s NFL. He’s incredibly quick, shifty, explosive, and he complements with refined technique. He’s not the most intricate route-runner, but he’s diverse in where he lines up and the types of routes he runs. He’ll be used all over the formation in the NFL and should see plenty of work at every level of the field.
Athleticism/Agility (81): Waddle’s athleticism numbers are off the charts. While it’s not uncommon for a player of his size to run as fast as he does, he still moves insanely well. He’s able to turn on the jets and go from 0-60 effortlessly, but he also possesses crazy start/stop ability. He’s able to throw on the brakes and come to a stop and then floor the gas pedal and get back up to max capacity almost immediately. This assists in him breaking angles in the open field and makes him a true threat at any part of the field.
Hands (78): Good hands and shows good hand-eye coordination. Very few drops on tape. It’s not necessarily the strongest part of his game, but it’s more than enough not to be overly concerned about him being a reliable receiving option in the NFL.
Contested Catch Ability (77): Able to make a jaw-dropping catch here or there, but this is also not the strongest aspect of his game. Can go up and highpoint the football over a defender but needs to show some improvement as a receiver over the middle of the field and hauling in the pass through contact. However, this is another minor concern. He should be more than serviceable in the NFL in this aspect.
Run After Catch Ability (81): Waddle has the type of explosiveness and acceleration after the catch to step onto the field on day one and be among the league’s best in terms of RAC ability. He should be heavily featured in getting him manufactured touches close to the line of scrimmage and letting him pick up yardage with his athleticism.
Release (78): He’s extremely twitchy at the LOS and shows great promise in his release packages. He’s still raw in this aspect, and he might need some time to develop, but the tools are there.
Deep Ball Tracking (77): He’s able to track the ball well while it’s in the air, and he has the speed and acceleration to kick it into another gear to put himself in a better position to make a play.
Speed (82): Game-changing speed. Simply moves at a different pace than everyone else on the football field, and that will be the same in the NFL.
Jaylen Waddle is a cheat code…makes no damn sense how good he is at everything. pic.twitter.com/XtBmr0lt3k
– Ray G ???? (@RayGQue) January 26, 2021
– The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) October 3, 2020
They Said It
Projected Draft Range
Waddle has the talent to be deserving of a top-five NFL Draft pick. He’s coming off of an injury that could potentially knock him down the board slightly, but it won’t be by much. Waddle’s pushing to be the first WR drafted in 2021, and there’s a very realistic chance of that happening.
Ideal Fantasy Landing Spot
Jaylen has the skillset to succeed in essentially any scheme or offense in the NFL. However, when considering his projected draft range and evaluating the teams within that section, reuniting him with his former college QB is the best fit. Tua Tagovailoa is going to need some receiving weapons in Miami, and he’s already familiar with Waddle and his skillset. If this happens, Waddle could push Top-35 WR status in redraft leagues in 2021.
They’re not exactly a perfect comparison, but it’s hard to watch Waddle on tape and not get Tyreek Hill vibes. Hill might somehow be even faster than Waddle, but it’s not by much. They can both go up and highpoint the football at times, but they operate best when they’re in space and free to run. Depending on who Waddle’s QB is in the NFL, he could have a similar type of impact.