2021 NFL Draft: Alabama WR Jaylen Waddle flashes elite NFL skillset

Jaylen Waddle became the focal point of the Alabama offense in the season opener.

After seeing Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III be selected in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, many Alabama fans were curious to see which of their receivers would fill their shoes. For their season opener against Missouri, it was Jaylen Waddle who stepped up for the Crimson Tide and led their offense with 138 yards, and three touchdowns.

Jaylen Waddle was the main playmaker for the Crimson Tide on Saturday night. He was targeted ten times and caught eight passes without having a drop. Waddle mainly operated out of the slot against Missouri. His first touchdown catch came from a beautifully run post route where he was able to beat his man, and walk-in for the easy touchdown.

The combination of precise route running and blazing speed made it impossible for the Missouri defense to stop him, let alone lay a finger on him. Waddle’s footwork, and shiftiness, was on display multiple times. On a couple occasions, Waddle was targeted on a bubble screen. One of which he was able to take 20 yards for the touchdown.

As we have seen lately in the NFL, a lot of offensive schemes allow their wide receivers to get into space and make a play. A scheme like that is where Waddle would thrive. Watch him take a role of a Tyreek Hill, and how the Chiefs use screens, slants, and even sometimes have Hill in the backfield, to get the ball into his hands as quickly as possible to let his athleticism to pick up chunks of yardage.

The wide receiver was able to make plays all day, but his most surprising play might have a deep ball catch down the middle of the field. At 5′-foot-10, 182 pounds, Waddle might have some trouble against some of the more imposing figures in the NFL. However, last game, Waddle was able to make a grab on a down-field jump ball. Not only that, but he was able to finish the play while taking a big hit.

The former four-star recruit started his career with 848 yards and seven touchdowns as a true Freshman. However, his numbers dropped due to the overload of talent at the wide receiver position. Waddle’s receiving numbers may have dropped a little bit, 560 yards and six touchdowns, but he made up for it with his return duties.

Waddle’s speed and athletic ability might best be used as a kick and punt returner. Last season, Waddle averaged a ridiculous 24.4 yards per punt return, and 35 yards per kick return. He also was able to score twice on returns. Both of which came in crucial games against Auburn and LSU.

Waddle’s receiving skills alone might allow him to sneak into the first round conversation. But add in his return potential, and his pure athleticism, and you get a real weapon that could has NFL scouts’ mouths watering. If Waddle can keep up his production, then he can very well find himself getting picked in the first round. This was only a sneak peek of what Jaylen Waddle can accomplish, but he is must-watch television because of his electric athleticism.