NFL.com tabs Jaylen Waddle as Dolphins’ most pivotal rookie

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The Miami Dolphins’ 2021 NFL draft class is expected to bring a lot of reps to the team’s campaign this season. Jevon Holland may well be the starter at free safety for the start of the season. Jaelan Phillips has been getting constant repetitions with the first-team defense as he’s been available — and he appears to be in the clear from a minor injury suffered earlier in camp. Liam Eichenberg has gotten first-team reps at both left guard and right tackle. And then there’s Jaylen Waddle: the team’s top draft choice and a member of the Dolphins’ crowded wide receiver room.

Which of the four is going to bring the most value to the party for Miami in 2021? Early signs appear to point to Waddle as a top contender and NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein agrees — he’s named Waddle as the team’s most pivotal rookie for the season ahead.

Tua Tagovailoa needs to find his rhythm early in games, which makes Waddle the easy selection here. He can handle the catch-and-run throws that should spring the big play and plant confidence in his quarterback. Waddle is a plus route-runner for being a speed guy, so there is no reason why he can’t make an immediate impact as a short, intermediate or deep option.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Waddle may be in a crowded receiver room but the lingering injuries in the room have left Waddle as one of the more consistent contributors throughout the first month of camp. And with a preexisting chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa going back to their days in Tuscaloosa, it would seem as though the opportunity for Waddle to gather a lot of targets is ripe for the taking. Waddle didn’t collect any catches in the team’s first preseason game but we wouldn’t read too much into it based on the constant connection we’ve seen from the pair at Dolphins camp.