2021 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jaylen Waddleby Alex Kielar January 31, 2021 1 comment
In the dynamic pass and run offenses in the NFL, there has been an emphasis on receivers who can do a variety of different things. Jaylen Waddle is very dynamic. He can play outside, in the slot, and as a decoy in the backfield. The smaller wideout has a tremendous skill set, which Waddle shows off on nearly every play. He has the physicality to compete with any defensive backs and make catches through contact. Waddle can make a quarterback better and burn secondaries downfield.
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Name: Jaylen Waddle
Position: Wide Receiver
Weight: 183 lbs
Route Tree (9/10)
Waddle is very capable of running a variety of different routes while selling his routes and then breaking off into something else that tricks the defender. He is used as a decoy sometimes in the offense, making it critical for defenses to always be aware of where he is on the field. Waddle has experience in the slot and on the outside, giving him experience in limited and open spaces. He can sometimes overrun a route at the top, allowing the corner to close the gap more easily.
He has tremendous hands and can catch the ball through contact. Waddle doesn’t care what is going on outside of him and the ball with his fantastic hand-eye coordination, blurring out the defenders to make a play.
Contested Catch (9.25/10)
He uses his hands to push through traffic to make a play through tough defense, not letting any contact stop him from making a play. Waddle isn’t afraid to be physical and can come down with a majority of 50-50 balls as he high-points the football.
Waddle is a true “slice and dice” receiver who can weave in and out of traffic while making defenders miss. He is one of the most electric players in this draft class, as he can make big-time plays using his speed and agility.
His foot speed and quickness are what help him win off the line. He uses jab steps and head movements to help him create extra room, and he is consistent in staying in front of the defensive back. Waddle won’t win any hand fights but makes up for that with his first step quickness.
Waddle seemingly runs with a jetpack on as his initial burst leaves defenders in the dust. He can break away from a DB with insanely good juke moves and jab steps to go the distance to paydirt.
Body Control (9/10)
He has excellent body control and can adjust to inaccurate passes in the air. He is not afraid to get physical through the play and will do whatever it takes to come down with the ball while being controlled as he goes through traffic.
While he lacks a bit in size, Waddle makes up for it in his skillset and eagerness to make plays. He plays above his size at the catch point as he high-points the football and completes the play through plenty of contact.
Competitive Toughness (5/5)
He plays with plenty of toughness and effort on every play. Every route he runs, he is highly competitive and smart when making his cuts. His maxed-out frame won’t provide much length, but his effort will never stop. Waddle was an excellent return specialist while at Alabama where he also succeeded at pulling off big-time returns.
Waddle never played a full season while at Alabama, while his 2020 season was cut short due to a high-ankle sprain and fracture. He was able to return in the National Championship Game against Ohio State, as he played through not being 100%. He still has plenty of untapped potential, while his smaller frame may be of concern as he tries to not sustain more injuries.
Football IQ (5/5)
He is a very intelligent football player who has displayed the ability to move to multiple positions throughout his career at Alabama. Waddle adjusts to routes on the fly and makes the right cuts in his routes. He has a huge impact on offense while showing the capability to move as a runner as well.
With his frame, he won’t be able to use much reach to help block in the run game. He is physical, however, and is not afraid to back down to set a block.
Waddle is a playmaker and could wind up being used as a gadget player in the NFL. Running plays in the slot, on the outside, catching screens, taking handoffs, and returning kicks. In anything he does, there won’t be any shortage of physicality. He is anything you want in a receiver and will be a huge asset in any offense. His speed alone makes him dangerous to breakaway on any play, but his elite body control and catch radius put him over the top.
Final Grade (90.5/100): Top 10 Potential, Top 15 pick
Player Comp: Tyreek Hill