If his stellar rookie campaign somehow wasn’t enough to convince the NFL of his potential, Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle left no doubt in his second professional season.
Now, the 24-year-old is getting ready for the third year of his NFL career, and the expectation from some members of the Dolphins organization is that Waddle is ready to take another “huge leap” to cement himself as an elite wide receiver.
“Members of the Dolphins organization who observed his offseason approach and growth during OTAs predict he will take another huge leap and cement his place among the elite at wide receiver,” wrote Mike Jones of The Athletic.
So far, Waddle has been everything the Dolphins could have hoped for when they selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
As a rookie, the University of Alabama product caught 104 passes for 1,015 yards and six touchdowns over 16 games. He also had a touchdown on the ground.
In the 2022 season, he took his game to new heights. Across 17 games, he caught 75 passes for 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns, leading the NFL in yards per reception at 18.1.
His ability last season to tally more receiving yards (on significantly fewer catches) than he did in his rookie campaign marked a huge improvement from an efficiency standpoint. Now, he’ll look for even more ways to improve when the 2023 regular season begins.
If Waddle does take another step forward this season, it’s going to spell trouble for opposing defenses as they look to slow down the rising star and superstar teammate Tyreek Hill.
Hill had 1,710 receiving yards last season, giving the Waddle-Hill duo 3,066 receiving yards in total. The two speedsters did that despite having to deal with a rotating quarterback situation due to availability issues concerning Tua Tagovailoa.
This time around, the hope is that Tagovailoa will be available all season long — or at least for more games than last season. If the quarterback is able to stay on the field, it should give Waddle and Hill a chance to be even more productive.
The Dolphins will start their season on Sept. 10 against the Los Angeles Chargers as they look to win their opening game for a third consecutive season.