Team: Alabama Crimson Tide
Position: Wide Receiver
Height/Weight: 5’10” and 182 lbs
The purpose of this series is to provide a ceiling and a floor for devy prospects. I also provide an example of a player in which the prospect could reach their level of production. This is not a player comparison in regards to style of play, but more so used for what we think the high or low end of production could be for fantasy purposes.
|Year||# of Games||Receptions||Yards||TD|
*Data collected from sports-reference.com
The first sentence about Jaylen Waddle should probably highlight his speed, however; I also feel like that is such a lazy introduction. After much contemplation I decided to talk about his speed! Jaylen Waddle was clocked at a high school football camp in Texas running a 4.37 40 yard dash. He has elite speed, and that is extremely valuable in an offense that has the QB who can hit on a deep ball and for teams who want to open up the offensive playbook. He has been deployed in a variety of ways at Alabama and it is clear defenses spy him whenever he is on the field. In space, Waddle can make any defender miss. If you jam him at the LOS, you better have the hip rotation and proper footwork to accelerate quickly or have safety help as he can leave you 5 yards behind watching him glide into the endzone. His speed and elusiveness make him a tremendous special teams candidate. Through his sophomore year at Alabama, he has 3 total returns (PR/KR) for touchdowns, and averaged an impressive 24.4 yards per punt return in 2019. His freshman year production was very promising, and I expect him to carve out a role immediately for whichever NFL team takes a shot on him.
Upside Projection: Mike Wallace
Although Waddle played on a loaded Alabama team with Jeudy, Ruggs III, and Devonta Smith all at WR, I am still hesitant to go overboard on him as a prospect. Clearly the man can fly and I have seen the comparisons to Devin Hester’s ST ability. As I mentioned above, he is an electric playmaker and most definitely have a role on an NFL team. For dynasty purposes, deciphering what the context of that role is huge come fantasy draft day. I am most likely not going to draft him in the first round of devy/SF leagues and therefore, I will likely miss out on most Waddle shares.I am not an expert on Alabama football, but he appears to have a somewhat limited route tree. I am not suggesting he does not have the skillset to handle more advanced routes, I just have not witnessed it yet. He can easily beat most CBs with his speed and likely requires extra attention from a safety which certainly presents a challenge for college defenses. My concern is we have seen many fast receivers who “can take the top off defenses” that underwhelm at the NFL level. Waddle does fit the current mold for today’s game, but defenses are also adjusting to mitigate the damage done by these blazers. If Waddle can continue to develop as a WR, I believe he has the potential to outperform my expectations. If not, is he just another guy with incredible athleticism?
Floor Projection: JJ Nelson
Waddle has generated a lot of buzz and will likely require a 1st round pick in rookie drafts when he is eligible to declare. He is a prospect with a ton of upside that is paired with some significant risk. I personally prefer “safer” more projectable WRs in round 1 and I am willing to miss out on the next exciting prospect.