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Alabama in the Pros

Jaylen Waddle is producing a record-setting rookie season with Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle (#17) returns a punt for the Dolphins in second half of 2021 game versus New York Giants
Jasen Vinlove - USA Today Sports

Jaylen Waddle brought fun, laughter, excitement, and explosive plays to Alabama football.

He carried the vibe to the Miami Dolphins and is having a good rookie season. Waddle got selected at No. 6 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft and became the primary target for Tua Tagovailoa. He won a College Football Playoff National Championship with Alabama in 2020, regardless of suffering an ankle injury. Waddle has been pivotal in Miami’s seven-game winning streak as the Dolphins are 8-7 on the season. His performance in Monday’s game versus New Orleans has the team in a playoff spot.

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The 5-foot-10, 182-pounder led Miami for receptions (10), yards (92), and touchdowns (one) in a 20-3 victory over the Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Miami had one touchdown drive, and it came in the third quarter. Tagovailoa found Waddle twice, including a long connection of 24 yards.

He finished the 86-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown catch.

Six of his 10 receptions went for first downs or scores. Waddle’s output for catches tied Jerry Rice’s mark from 1985 as an NFL rookie record on Monday Night Football. 

He is tied for sixth in the league for receptions (96) and has the Dolphins’ single-season rookie record.

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Waddle has 941 receiving yards — the most by a Dolphins’ rookie since Chris Chambers in 2001 (883). Chambers played seven years at Miami from 2001 to 2007. Waddle is third all-time for catches in a single season for Miami, trailing Jarvis Landry’s marks of 110 (2015) and 112 (2017). As a native of Houston, Texas, he ranks twelfth in the league for targets (126). National reporters have several names in mind for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, but Waddle should be near the top of the list.

He is the lone explosive weapon Tagovailoa has offensively for the Dolphins. Waddle is two wins away from helping Miami firmly secure a playoff spot.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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