Jaylen Waddle reminded fans in the Iron Bowl that he can keep pace with his talented teammates. With the depth Alabama has at wide receiver, it is easy for Waddle to get overlooked behind players like Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith.
Waddle had a breakout performance against Auburn as Alabama backup quarterback Mac Jones looked his way early and often. Waddle is just a sophomore and will not be eligible for the NFL draft until 2021, at the earliest. Waddle’s 40 time remains a bit of a mystery given he has not done official testing, but it is clear the Alabama receiver is blazing fast. Former Crimson Tide teammate Josh Jacobs estimated that Waddle should run at least a 4.28 in the 40-yard dash.
“I think the dude runs at least a 4.28 (second 40-yard dash) — legit,” Jacobs told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2018. “He has legit speed. He’s going to make a lot of big plays. You’ll see a lot of him throughout the year.”
Waddle Ran a 4.37 40 Time in High School & Is Projected to Be a First-Round Pick in the 2021 NFL Draft
Waddle still has some time before he is draft-eligible, but he already projects to be one of the top receivers in the 2021 class. Walter Football has Waddle going No. 6 in their 2021 NFL mock draft. Waddle is their No. 2 ranked wide receiver behind Clemson’s Justyn Ross.
247 Sports’ Greg Powers reported that Waddle was timed at 4.37 in the 40 at the UA Houston camp in 2017 when Waddle was still in high school.
Waddle Is Likely Going to Be Alabama’s Top Receiver in 2020
Waddle’s role on a talented Alabama squad is likely to expand in 2020. Jeudy, Smith and Ruggs are all top prospects for the 2020 NFL draft. If all three receivers leave as expected, Waddle is a prime candidate to step into being Alabama’s WR1. A lot can change in a year as Alabama brings in one of the top recruiting classes annually. Alabama head coach Nick Saban spoke highly of Waddle earlier this season.
“I certainly think that Jaylen has a lot of ability,” Saban told AL.com. “We want him to be a very positive contributor. We want him to play with great consistency in performance and we’re going to continue to work with him so that maybe he can do that a little better. But we have a lot of confidence in him in a lot of ways to do a lot of good things for us.”
Waddle’s strengths are his speed and versatility as Alabama also uses the receiver in the return game. Waddle has the speed to also be a top returner once he reaches the NFL.