The Miami Dolphins love this pick.
Start there because Jaylen Waddle, the newest and shiniest weapon on the Miami offense, is easy to love as a first-round addition. And Dolphins general manager Chris Grier selected him with the No. 6 overall selection Thursday night.
It also helps Waddle loves the moment.
“It’s special,” Waddle said. “There’s a lot of hard work that went into getting here.”
So there are good reasons for all this love:
Waddle has elite speed, considered to be in the low 4.3 range.
He is a matchup nightmare playing the slot position.
And Waddle is likely going to be an amazing special teams performer because he was exactly that as a kick returner at Alabama.
It’s good news, by the way, when Waddle is compared favorably to, among other NFL players, Tyreek Hill.
Hill is Kansas City’s scary good and exciting receiver who is a threat to score on any play.
“I get a lot of comparisons to Tyreek because of his speed, but I’m my own player,” Waddle said Thursday evening. “But I’m going to try to be a player that makes his own way.”
So we should all get it. No one should complain the Dolphins added an extraordinary playmaker prospect who can turn bubble screens into explosive touchdowns.
But along with those grand possibilities and hopes, it’s also fair to feel a little uneasy about this pick. A little incomplete.
Because if Waddle isn’t all those things you just read, the Dolphins’ 2021 first pick is going to be remembered for whom the team did not take as much as for Waddle.
Yes, be happy Waddle is reuniting with former Alabama teammate and current Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The two should enjoy almost instant chemistry based on their shared history.
“It’s definitely there for sure,” Waddle said of that chemistry.
But how might it have looked for Miami with Florida tight end Kyle Pitts? Or LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase? Or even DeVonta Smith, Waddle’s more productive teammate at Alabama?
Waddle needs to be better than all those guys to quiet a generation of second-guessers.
Because the Dolphins definitely opened themselves up to a huge amount of skepticism with their strategy for this pick.
The reason is the Dolphins could have had any playmaker in this draft if they wanted.
But they traded out of the No. 3 overall selection that would have guaranteed Pitts or Chase. And they bypassed Smith outright Thursday evening.
So, it’s fair to be unsure about this now.
Maybe you’re upset the Dolphins couldn’t land Pitts, perhaps the most unique player in the entire draft.
“The word freak is thrown around,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “This is a freak.”
Pitts is a seam-throw destroyer and he’s going to be doing that for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons who picked him No. 4 overall or one selection after the pick the Dolphins traded away to San Francisco in March.
So the Dolphins could have had Pitts. We know this. The Dolphins had to think this could happen.
But Miami traded that pick, anyway.
And Miami also had to know that former LSU quarterback Joe Burrow might love a reunion with Chase, who is considered the most complete wide receiver in the draft. That wasn’t a surprise to anyone. The Dolphins had to think trading out of No. 3 could lead to this, too.
But Miami traded the pick, anyway.
So the Dolphins basically traded Kyle Pitts for Jaylen Waddle, a third-round pick in 2022 and a first-round pick in 2023.
The Dolphins basically traded Ja’Marr Chase for Waddle, that No. 3 next year and the No. 1 in 2023.
And maybe we’re sitting here some day feeling this was Grier’s finest hour. But if it’s not, it’s quite possible there will be a different GM utilizing Grier’s first-round pick in ‘23.
Sorry, that’s how the NFL works.
Success is rewarded.
Failure is punished.
And there are zero prizes for merely gambling.
The Dolphins better not wake up some day the next couple of years and wonder if they got too cute with this trade. Because they may have done exactly that.
One way the Waddle pick and the trade don’t become an albatross to Grier like Dion Jordan was to Jeff Ireland:
Waddle great, Grier great.
Waddle great, Tua great.
Waddle great, Dolphins offense great.
Jaylen Waddle better be great.