2021 NFL Draft: WR Jaylen Waddle has sky-high upside but needs experience

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2021 NFL Draft: WR Jaylen Waddle has sky-high upside but needs time

2021 NFL Draft: WR Jaylen Waddle has sky-high upside but needs time. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jaylen Waddle: a top WR in the 2021 NFL Draft

Alabama had four potential first-round wide receiver talents on its roster last season and the one that perhaps flew under the radar was Jaylen Waddle. He sits near the top in 2021 NFL Draft rankings, as his upside is sky-high.

With Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy each going in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Waddle and DeVonta Smith will aim to follow in their footsteps and, presuming the SEC season goes ahead, they will each have their chance to solidify their status among the best receivers in the 2021 class with strong final seasons in Tuscaloosa.

There is a divide over whether Smith or Waddle should be the first Alabama receiver off the board in 2021, with some believing Waddle to be the superior prospect.

That is somewhat surprising as Smith had over 1,200 yards receiving in 2019 and would have been in the conversation to go ahead of both Ruggs and Jeudy had he declared for 2020. Smith had 68 catches last season, Waddle has 78 in his entire career.

Despite Waddle’s lack of experience, he has an electric skill set that should intrigue NFL scouts eyeing a wide receiver who can elevate their offense and make a difference on special teams.

His upside is reflected in the production he has delivered when the ball has come his way. Waddle has 1,408 yards in two seasons with the Crimson Tide, hauling in 13 receiving touchdowns and averaging a gaudy 18.1 yards per reception.

Stopping Waddle will be a focus of SEC defenses in 2020 and here we assess the strengths and weaknesses of his game going into his junior season.

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