The Miami Dolphins’ top choice in the 2021 NFL Draft has certainly had an impact on Miami’s first three games of the season. Granted, the successes of Jaylen Waddle’s touches may not necessarily be where you’d have hoped given his pedigree as a big play receiver at Alabama with the Crimson Tide. But that’s not on Waddle; he’s catching nearly everything thrown his way. With 22 receptions on 26 targets through three games, Miami is feeding their top choice the football — they’re just not getting creative with it or challenging teams vertically with his speed yet.
And Waddle knows he can do more in the instances where he’s finding the football quickly, too.
“Honestly, I feel like I can do more after the catch. I’ll try to do more after the catch. That’s pretty much where I’m at. I’m not dissatisfied or anything like that but I feel I can do more,” said Waddle.
Next Gen Stats is currently tracking Jaylen Waddle with an average of 5 yards after the catch per reception. That’s first of all, pretty damning for Waddle’s depth of targets thus far this season when you consider 7.6 yards per reception overall on the season. But the fact that Waddle himself remains hungry to create more with his touches speaks to his mentality as a player. The Dolphins can do right by him by asking him to work more down the field; be that on deeper crossing patterns or fades from the slot, in the same way that he got his big 36-yard gain against the Patriots in Week 1.
But then again, consider the history of Dolphins receivers and yards after the catch. You have to go all the way back to 2016 in the Next Gen Stats database to find a Miami Dolphins receiver who qualified for the metric (based on workload) who had higher than 5.0 yards after the catch per catch. That was Jarvis Landry and 6.5 YAC/reception.
Waddle is physically capable of so much more. And the offense is going to need to start asking him to do more. But the fact that Waddle remains ready to try to do more is a good sign for the better days to come — Waddle is still in the infancy of his pro career.