How Jaylen Waddle will impact the Miami Dolphins in 2021

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The Miami Dolphins had pick No. 5 in the 2020 NFL draft, which they used to select former Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. One year later, with pick No. 6 overall, the Dolphins took his former teammate and wide receiver, Jaylen Waddle.

There were a few other college reunions to take place from the 2021 NFL draft. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne will play together in Jacksonville after spending time at Clemson together, Jalen Hurts got his former wide receiver DeVonta Smith in Philadelphia and Joe Burrow got his former wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in Cincinnati.

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) before the Texas A&M game at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas on Saturday October 12, 2019.

Tagovailoa only started nine games in his rookie season, but NFL fans are still quick to offer their thoughts on the Crimson Tide product. However, maybe it wasn’t all his fault that he didn’t look like he did while at Alabama.

In the 2020 season, which Miami ended with a final record of 10-6, the Dolphins didn’t have a single receiver eclipse 800 receiving yards. Wide receiver DeVante Parker led the team with 793 yards, tight end Mike Gesicki was second on the team with 703 yards. The pass catcher with the third-most receiving yards was running back Myles Gaskin with 388.

The Dolphins front office figured it would be best to help out their quarterback. So, Will Fuller was brought in on a one-year deal and they drafted Waddle with hopes of replicating the success Tagovailoa and him shared while they played under Nick Saban.

CLEVELAND, OHIO – APRIL 29: Jaylen Waddle walks onstage after being selected with the sixth pick by the Miami Dolphins during round one of the 2021 NFL Draft at the Great Lakes Science Center on April 29, 2021 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

How big of an impact will rookie Jaylen Waddle have on the Dolphins in his first season back with Tagovailoa? We can’t be entirely sure as of today, but we can get a good idea of what to expect based on what they did together in college.

Waddle can take a short pass deep. His speed, shiftiness and vision allows him to break tackles and extend plays. While in collage, he averaged 9.8 yards after the catch per reception. That would be massive for the Dolphins, as the only player to come close to Waddle’s number in the 2020 season was Gaskin with 9.6, no one else came within four yards of Gaskin.

Nov 30, 2019; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) runs the ball for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Having Waddle occasionally catching short passes could help Tagovailoa move the ball down the field, it’s a much easier way of doing so compared to trying to hit Jakeem Grant downfield.

The former Alabama receiver could also catch the deep ball. There really isn’t anything that Waddle can’t do.

Prior to his injury in 2020, he was averaging 21.1 yards per reception. Whether a majority of it was yards after catch or reeling in passes from over 20 yards out, it’s impressive.

When Tagovailoa targeted Waddle, the numbers were impressive. According to Pro Football Focus, they had a completion percentage of 74%, 137.9 passer rating and 16.6 yards per completion.

While it’s unclear how big of a role he’ll have on this receiving corps, it’s clear that he was brought in for a purpose and will work his way through training camp before getting to Week 1 vs. the New England Patriots.