Jaylen Waddle

AFC Notes: Waddle, Howard, Jets, QBs, Mims

The Dolphins just made a massive investment in Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle by taking him with the sixth overall pick. While it’s too early to worry too much, it does sound like Waddle’s ankle may cause some anxiety for Miami fans. Waddle is “still not entirely back” from the broken ankle he suffered during his last season in college, Adam Beasley of Pro Football Network hears. He writes that it’s “still somewhat of an issue” nine months after the injury occurred.

Even though he’s participating in training camp practices, Beasley says he “still at times walks with a limp” and that “there are some within the organization who believe he doesn’t yet have the full explosiveness” he had with the Crimson Tide. Waddle said after a recent Dolphins practice that he was feeling good, but it sounds like this will be a situation to monitor. The injury was a devastating one, so it’s not all that shocking that it’s lingering.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • Speaking of potential Dolphins drama, star cornerback Xavien Howard just gave his first press conference since formally requesting a trade. Howard was pretty terse in his media availability and didn’t reveal too much, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. When asked if he was optimistic that an agreement with Miami would be reached, Howard said “That’s up to the Dolphins,” he said. “I’m just here with my teammates.” Howard either wants more guaranteed money from the team, or a trade. He was also asked whether he hoped things would get worked out for him to stay, and he replied “yeah, I hope it gets better. It’s a process. I’m hearing this and that, but nothing is getting done right now.” When asked whether he had spoken to head coach Brian Flores, Howard said “we talked but didn’t go nowhere.” It sounds like things are at an impasse, with no end in sight. Buckle up.
  • One of the big questions surrounding the Jets this offseason has been whether they’ll add a veteran backup quarterback. Rookie second overall pick Zach Wilson will be the starter, but New York has very little experience behind him. 2018 fifth-round pick Mike White and 2020 fourth-round pick James Morgan are the only two other options on the roster. First-time head coach Robert Saleh “seems oppposed” to the idea of adding a veteran signal-caller, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. If they don’t, “White is the favorite to be the regular season QB2,” Cimini says. White was originally drafted by the Cowboys, but came to New York in 2019. Cimini thinks the team may cut Morgan and try to add him to the practice squad.
  • This one will be a disappointment to Jets fans. 2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims is “no better than fifth in the pecking order at wide receiver,” Cimini writes. The team obviously had much higher hopes for him when they drafted him 59th overall just last year. He’s understandably behind veterans Corey Davis and Jamison Crowder, but it sounds like Mims has also already fallen behind free agent signee Keelan Cole and 2021 second-round pick Elijah Moore. Injuries limited the Baylor product to only nine games as a rookie, in which he put up 23 catches for 357 yards.

AFC East Notes: Waddle, Wilson, Jets, Pats

Jaylen Waddle missed most of his senior season at Alabama due to a broken ankle. While that injury occurred back in October, the top-10 pick does not appear to have fully recovered. Waddle’s ankle remains an issue at Dolphins camp, according to Adam Beasley of the Pro Football Network. Some with the Dolphins do not believe the No. 6 overall pick has regained his full explosiveness just yet, Beasley adds. The former Tua Tagovailoa Tuscaloosa weapon has walked with a limp during training camp but has gone through practices, avoiding a stay on Miami’s active/PUP list. Although the Dolphins have three first-round wideouts on their roster, with free agent pickup Will Fuller joining DeVante Parker, Waddle is the highest-drafted receiver in team history.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Jets making Zach Wilson the last of this year’s 259 draftees to sign is not especially surprising, given the timing of the sides’ negotiations. The Jets did not begin negotiating with the No. 2 overall pick until last week, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (on Twitter). Gang Green wanted Wilson to defer $6MM of his signing bonus to 2022, but when the team agreed to pay it all this year, Wilson flew to the Big Apple. While payment schedule was an issue for Wilson’s camp, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes offset language was the top concern for the quarterback. Once the Jets agreed to pay out his bonus within 15 days, however, the BYU product caved on offsets, which are present in his deal.
  • Marcus Maye and the Jets never came close on a deal ahead of the franchise tag extension deadline, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. With a Maye tag in 2022 costing the Jets $12.7MM, Cimini expects this season to be it for Maye with the team. The Jets appear intent on gauging Maye’s fit in Robert Saleh‘s defense, but the timing here may well lead Maye elsewhere next year. Maye and Jamal Adams started together for three seasons on Gang Green’s back line. It is now looking likely each will have passed through before receiving a big payday with another team.
  • Two-year incumbent Sam Ficken and rookie UDFA Chris Naggar are vying for the Jets’ kicker job, but the team held a workout recently at this position. Matthew McCraneMatt Ammendola and Haidar Zaidan worked out for the team this week, Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 tweets. Of the three, McCrane is the only one to kick in an NFL game. And that came back in 2018.
  • The Patriots received a slight boost in their salary cap space this week. Patrick Chung‘s retirement being officially processed created $891K in cap space for the Pats, Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed tweets. Chung opted out last season but announced his retirement in March. New England currently carries just more than $13MM in cap space.

Poll: Which Rookie Wide Receiver Will Finish With Most Receiving Yards?

This past week we asked you which rookie running back would finish with the most yards in 2021, and now we’re turning our attention to the wide receivers. This year’s wideout class was a great one, with three going in the top ten picks.

Two more then went later in the first round, and then five were off the board in the second. The crop included reigning Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith, and LSU star Ja’Marr Chase who was reunited in Cincinnati with college teammate Joe Burrow.

Chase became the first receiver off the board when the Bengals nabbed him with the fifth overall pick. He should already have great chemistry with Burrow, so he’s got that working in his favor. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are still there, but the team moving on from A.J. Green this offseason means Chase should see plenty of opportunity right away. Will his rapport with Burrow and a potentially improved Cincy O-line be enough for him to seize the rookie receiving title?

The following pick, the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle from Alabama at number six. Waddle is also reconnecting with an old college quarterback as he’ll re-team with Tua Tagovailoa in Miami. His blazing fast speed gives him plenty of upside, although working against him is the fact that he missed a good chunk of the 2020 season due to injury. Will Fuller will have to sit out the first game of the 2021 season with a suspension, but DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki will also be competing for targets.

Smith *also* is getting paired back up with a familiar face under center. The Heisman winner played with Eagles second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts at Alabama. Despite winning the award for best college football player in the country, Smith was the third wideout taken. Will he use that as added motivation and come out with a chip on his shoulder? He certainly shouldn’t struggle for playing time with Philly’s receiving depth chart being thin as ever. Jalen Reagor, Travis Fulgham, and Greg Ward Jr. are all he has to compete with.

The other two first-rounders were Kadarius Toney from Florida to the Giants at 20 and Rashod Bateman from Minnesota to the Ravens at 27. Toney surprised New York by skipping OTAs and apparently might begin the year in a gadget role as he’s buried behind Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Evan Engram in the pecking order, so he’s got his work cut out for him. Bateman has a path to a breakout with Baltimore in desperate need of receiving help, but the Ravens’ passing game is going to be a wild card.

Elijah Moore was the next big name, with the Ole Miss product going to the Jets at 34. He’s also got upside, but has a few guys ahead of him and will have a rookie quarterback throwing to him. Rondale Moore (Purdue) to the Cardinals at 49, D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan) to the Seahawks at 56, Tutu Atwell (Louisville) to the Rams at 57, and Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU) to the Panthers at 59 round out the rest of the round two receivers.

So, what do you think? Which receiver will rack up the most yards in 2021? Who are the later-round candidates or UDFAs who can join these players as early contributors? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.

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Dolphins Sign Jaylen Waddle

The Dolphins have officially signed wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). Per the terms of his slot, the No. 6 overall pick will earn $27.1MM on his four-year deal.

Waddle will team with former Alabama teammate Tua Tagovailoa, giving the young quarterback one of the most dangerous weapons in the ’21 class. Early on in his career, Waddle was largely overshadowed by the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III – two eventual first-round picks.

After they left Tuscaloosa, Waddle asserted himself as one of Bama’s two best WR talents in 2020. In his first six games, Waddle went off for 28 catches and 591 yards — good for 21.2 yards per catch on average — plus four touchdowns. He also kept up his strong work in the return game, giving evaluators even more opportunities to gawk at his speed on film. Even though he missed much of the year due to injury, Waddle stood as one of this year’s most highly-coveted prospects.

Waddle figures to be one of this year’s most exciting rookies to watch, especially with defenses also having to account for Will Fuller and DeVante Parker.

 

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Dolphins Select Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle At No. 6

The Dolphins seem committed to Tua Tagovailoa, and they’re now pairing their young quarterback with his dynamic college teammate. Miami selected Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle with the sixth-overall pick.

Waddle had established himself as one of the top receivers in the draft alongside LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, (who went at No. 5 to the Bengals) and former college teammate DeVonta Smith. He cemented his status as a top-10 pick during his pro day, as he posted a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, a number that even surprised the LSU star (“I was going for a low 4.4,” Chase said).

Early on in his career, Waddle was largely overshadowed by the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III – two eventual first-round picks. After they left Tuscaloosa, Waddle was primed to assert himself as Bama’s top wide receiver in 2020. In his first six games, Waddle went off for 28 catches and 591 yards — good for 21.2 yards per catch on average — plus four touchdowns. He also kept up his strong work in the return game, giving evaluators even more opportunities to gawk at his speed on film. Unfortunately, his final return of the regular season came against Tennessee, couching his season up until the National Championship game against Ohio State.

Despite the ill-timed injury, Waddle remained one of this year’s most highly-coveted prospects. His injured ankle even kept him from running the 40-yard-dash for scouts this year — that hasn’t slowed him down either. Waddle was clocked at 4.37 seconds before he even stepped foot on campus. And, depending on who you ask, he could even be a shade faster than Ruggs on the field. Ruggs, for reference, clocked a 4.27-second 40-time last year. Waddle can accelerate, stop on a dime, and throttle his way past the coverage, meaning he should have the skills to contribute right away.

The Dolphins spent on Will Fuller earlier this offseason, pairing him with standout DeVante Parker. Now, Tua will have another talented target to pass to, and there’s a good chance the rookie climbs to the top of the depth chart before long.

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Cardinals Eyeing CBs, Jaylen Waddle?

Quarterbacks and other top-10 prospects have dominated this year’s draft discussions, overshadowing the rest of this year’s class. The Cardinals hold pick No. 16 and are considering multiple paths, including one that involves a highly coveted pass catcher.

Arizona is interested in cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn, per ProFootballNetwork.com’s Tony Pauline, who adds the team is also eyeing Jaylen Waddle. However, it is quite possible all three of these players will be gone by the time the Cardinals go on the clock. This would point the Steve Keim-run team to a trade-up scenario.

The Cards gave A.J. Green a one-year, $6MM deal to see if he can rediscover his pre-2019 form. They have Christian Kirk, but he is going into a contract year and has not been especially consistent as a pro. Larry Fitzgerald remains unsigned and is expected to retire after 17 seasons. Waddle would certainly make for a flashy DeAndre Hopkins complementary piece, but the Cards would almost certainly have to trade up to land him.

Patrick Peterson defected to the Vikings in free agency, and although Arizona agreed to terms with Malcolm Butler, he is going into his age-31 season. The Cardinals have Byron Murphy signed through 2022 but could use additional help at corner. Surtain has been viewed as a player likely to go off the board in the top half of the first round for months, while Horn has made a late climb. However, Todd McShay’s latest ESPN.com mock has the South Carolina corner falling to the Cards at 16.

The team is believed to view linebacker Zaven Collins as a potential contingency plan, according to Pauline. A Tulsa product, Collins has a versatile skill set that could be utilized as a pass rusher or pure linebacker. The Cards going in this direction would be interesting, given Haason Reddick‘s struggles in a hybrid role for most of his Arizona tenure and the team’s selection of versatile ‘backer Isaiah Simmons in last year’s first round.

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Dolphins Open To Drafting DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle?

A report earlier this offseason indicated the Dolphins wanted to add a boundary wide receiver and a slot target. The team checked off the first of those boxes by signing Will Fuller and may be preparing to finish this mission in Round 1.

Rumblings of another Dolphins trade-down maneuver have surfaced, with the team appearing open to moving down again — perhaps if another team wants to fork over major assets for a quarterback. The Dolphins would be put to a decision in this case, because they may not want to move down too far. The team would not mind ending up with one of the two Alabama wide receivers — DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle — if Kyle Pitts and Ja’Marr Chase are not available, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson.

Both Pitts and Chase be gone by the time the Dolphins go on the clock at No. 6. The Bengals continue to be linked to Chase at No. 5. If Pitts is still there at 6, the Dolphins should be expected to draft him, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). But if the Dolphins believe they can land Smith or Waddle a bit later than 6, the right offer could prompt the team to pull the trigger on a trade before the draft.

Should both the Alabama prospects be available whenever the Dolphins’ first pick ends up, Albert Breer of SI.com notes the team is believed to be high on Waddle.

Miami acquired a bounty from San Francisco late last month, collecting the No. 12 pick, two future first-rounders and a 2021 third for the No. 3 selection. The Dolphins may be preparing to capitalize on another quarterback-needy team. A team like the Broncos, who hold pick No. 9 and have discussed moving up, may be a fit for another Dolphins trade-down maneuver. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay’s latest ESPN mock draft has Waddle and Smith falling to the Nos. 11 and 12 spots.

Climbing back from 12 to 6, however, via the trade with the Eagles seemingly indicates the Dolphins want to equip Tua Tagovailoa with another weapon. Tagovailoa played with Smith and Waddle at Alabama; each of his former Crimson Tide teammates would be a major upgrade for the Dolphins and would join Fuller and DeVante Parker in a formidable receiver group.

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Giants Could Still Consider WR In First Round

While the Giants have been busy adding to their wideout corps this offseason, that doesn’t mean they won’t add to the position via the draft. In fact, they could consider selecting a wide receiver with their first-round pick (No. 11 overall). Paul Schwartz of the New York Post writes that the Giants spending spree at the position “does not preclude the Giants from taking a wide receiver in the first round of this draft.”

The team made one of the biggest splashes in free agency by adding Kenny Golladay on a lucrative $72MM deal, and they signed speedy wideout John Ross, as well. This duo will join a core that features 2020 starters Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, as well as intriguing young options like C.J. Board and Dante Pettis. In other words, Daniel Jones should have plenty of targets to throw to next season, and co-owner John Mara previously seemed to imply that the team’s free agent success means the organization won’t be as tempted to add a wideout during the draft.

“It also takes pressure off of us going into the draft,” Mara told Schwartz when discussing the Golladay signing. “We don’t have to take a receiver in Round 1 or Round 2, we can sit there and just take the best player available when it comes to our spot. I think that’s another reason why it was so important to us.’’

Still, as Schwartz writes, the Giants will certainly be intrigued by a receiver depending on who’s on the board when it’s their time to make a selection. Specifically, the reporter points to the Alabama duo of DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle; if either player is available at No. 11, Scwartz opines that the Giants “might be enticed to take the plunge.” Alternatively, the team could look to the second day of the draft to add another player at the position, with the writer pointing to prospects like Kadarius Toney, Amari Rodgers, and Rondale Moore.

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NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle

If you haven’t been tracking Jaylen Waddle for the last three years, you could be forgiven. Early on in his career, Waddle was largely overshadowed by the likes of Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III – two eventual first-round picks. After they left Tuscaloosa, Waddle was primed to assert himself as Bama’s top wide receiver in 2020.

[RELATED: A Closer Look At LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase]

In his first six games, Waddle went off for 28 catches and 591 yards — good for 21.2 yards per catch on average — plus four touchdowns. He also kept up his strong work in the return game, giving evaluators even more opportunities to gawk at his speed on film. Unfortunately, his final return of the regular season came against Tennessee, couching his season up until the National Championship game against Ohio State.

Despite the ill-timed injury, Waddle remains one of this year’s most highly-coveted prospects. His injured ankle even kept him from running the 40-yard-dash for scouts this year — that hasn’t slowed him down either. Waddle was clocked at 4.37 seconds before he even stepped foot on campus. And, depending on who you ask, he could even be a shade faster than Ruggs on the field. Ruggs, for reference, clocked a 4.27-second 40-time last year.

With explosiveness and sustained speed down the field, it would almost be too easy to compare Waddle to Chiefs star Tyreek Hill. Almost. Both players have the ability to wreck one-on-one coverage with their speed and, like Hill, Waddle can accelerate, stop on a dime, and throttle his way past the coverage. Former teammate Najee Harris – viewed by many as the best running back in the 2021 class — also sees the similarities.

He’s small but he’s dynamic. He’s explosive. Really really explosive,” Harris told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. “The closest thing to Tyreek Hill. You gotta see him in person. How he plays how he gets in and out of cuts. How he stops and goes 60 [mph] right away.”

The knocks on Waddle are few and far in-between. Many of them were out of his control. Waddle never put together a full season like LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase did in 2019 (1,780 receiving yards and 20 receiving touchdowns, both SEC records), but he was buried behind an All-Star cast in 2018 and 2019. Then, 2020’s ankle injury effectively ended his year. His hands aren’t quite as reliable as Chase’s either. Still, Waddle has already crossed a lot of the “cons” off of his list – concerned chatter about his catching ability and upper body strength have turned into mere whispers. Blessed with serious wheels, route running, and tons of tools to make opponents miss, Waddle has cemented himself as this year’s WR2 or WR3, depending on how you rate him vs. ‘Bama teammate DeVonta Smith.

Chase ran away with the WR1 crown at his pro day when he posted a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, a number that even surprised the LSU star (“I was going for a low 4.4,” Chase said.) If Chase’s absolute ceiling is No. 4 overall after three QBs come off the board, then Waddle’s should top out at the Bengals’ No. 5 pick. After that, it’s the Dolphins at No. 6 and the Lions at No. 7, two clubs that want/need a game-changing WR like Waddle. Even with lots of variables in play, it’s hard to imagine Waddle waiting past the top ten.

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Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II, Jaylen Waddle, Mac Jones To Enter Draft

Days after a lopsided national championship victory, Alabama will see several of its starters make the expected jump to the NFL. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, cornerback Patrick Surtain II, quarterback Mac Jones and defensive tackle Christian Barmore announced Thursday they will enter the 2021 draft.

All four are projected first-round picks, according to ESPN.com’s Todd McShay. Surtain, Jones and Waddle will respectively forgo their senior seasons, while Barmore will leave two Crimson Tide years on the table. Surtain and Waddle have appeared in first-round mocks for a while now; it is not out of the question both join Heisman winner DeVonta Smith as top-10 picks.

Waddle will land alongside Smith and LSU opt-out Ja’Marr Chase atop the receiver prospects in what is expected to be another deep wideout class. While Waddle saw an ankle fracture interrupt his final Alabama season, he suited up against Ohio State — albeit at far less than 100% — and should be expected to go off the board fairly early in the draft. Smith and Waddle, who averaged 21.1 yards per catch this season, will follow ex-Crimson Tide teammates Henry Ruggs and Jerry Jeudy as first-round prospects. Waddle is not certain to be ready for the Combine or pre-draft workouts, however.

An All-American as a junior, Surtain finished with a career-high nine passes defensed this season. He will follow his father, Patrick Surtain, into the pros. The elder Surtain was a longtime NFL corner who became a Dolphins second-round pick in 1998. McShay has the younger Surtain and Barmore going off the board at 10th and 27th overall, respectively. The latter recorded eight sacks this season.

At Alabama during Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa‘s starting tenures, Jones took over late last season after Tagovailoa’s hip injury. Despite the COVID-19-altered season limiting Alabama to 13 games total, Jones set a program record with 4,500 passing yards and finished with a 77% completion rate and a 41-4 TD-INT ratio. He will join Trevor Lawrence, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, BYU’s Zach Wilson and (likely) Ohio State’s Justin Fields as surefire Round 1 prospects.

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