Jaylen Waddle was born and raised in Bellair, Texas, right outside of Houston. It was at Episcopal High School where he would become an All-American football player. Many prestigious schools offered him a scholarship, but he opted to attend the University of Alabama. As a true freshman, he started as a punt returner and made a significant contribution as a receiver. His 45 receptions, 848 yards, and 7 scores were enough to earn him SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Following a sophomore slump, he hit the ground running in year three. He averaged 139.3 receiving yards and a touchdown per game through the first four contests. Unfortunately, Waddle broke his ankle the next game against Tennessee. He would come back to play a limited role in the National Championship victory against Ohio State.
Jaylen Waddle opted to forgo his senior season and enter the 2020 NFL Draft. His ankle looked strong as he ran a blazing 4.37 second 40 time at his Pro Day. His measurables were underwhelming, with both his 74 ⅝-inch wingspan and 9 ⅛-inch hands measuring well below average. His college stats raised questions with two average seasons and a major injury. However, what Waddle displayed on film at Alabama was what mattered most to scouts. He was selected by the Miami Dolphins with the 6th overall pick of the 2021 Draft.
Waddle saw the field early for the Dolphins in his rookie season, playing 379 snaps in the slot and running 542 routes. He didn’t see many deep balls, recording just 6.3 Air Yards per target. The nature of Miami’s pass game and Waddle’s open field prowess rendered him a PPR monster, however. He racked up 104 receptions, creating 443 yards after the catch on a 24.8-percent Target Share. He also dropped only five passes. Collecting at least seven receptions in 12 of 16 games earned him a WR13 fantasy ranking to close out his rookie season, certainly paying off after his 90.5 ADP.
The Dolphins traded for Tyreek Hill before the 2022 season. Combined with Mike McDaniels' well-designed scheme and Tua Tagovailoa's hyper-accurate passing, Hill and Waddle help make up one of the most feared passing attacks in the NFL. Waddle was No. 1 in the league among receivers in Yards Per Reception with 18.1 in 2022. He was also No. 3 in the league with 89.2 Expected Points Added. Waddle enters his third season in 2023, and is one of the most dynamic young receivers in the league.