Jaylen Waddle Rumors: Eagles, Cardinals 'Love' WR Ahead of 2021 NFL Draft

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2021

Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) carries the ball in for a touchdown after a reception during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Auburn Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Butch Dill/Associated Press

The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles reportedly "love" Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle ahead of the first round of the 2021 NFL draft Thursday night.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday there's a "perception within the league" the Cards and Eagles really want Waddle. That could lead him to come off the board earlier than expected, with Breer projecting the wideout lands with the Miami Dolphins at No. 6 overall in his final mock draft.

The situation creates an interesting dynamic because if the Dolphins do select Waddle with the sixth pick, they'll have done it with a choice that originally belonged to the Eagles. The teams made a trade in March, with Miami moving back up the order from No. 12 after trading down from No. 3.

When Philadelphia, which also picked up a 2022 first-rounder in the swap, made that trade, it appeared plausible Waddle will be available at No. 12 because of a quarterback-heavy top 10 and two other top receiver prospects available in LSU's Ja'Marr Chase and Crimson Tide teammate DeVonta Smith.

The Cardinals have the No. 16 pick, and the Dolphins also have the No. 18 selection, so it creates a wide range of potential landing spots for the 22-year-old Houston native.

Waddle got off to a tremendous start to the 2020 season with four straight games of at least five catches and 120 yards before suffering an ankle injury. He returned in time for the national championship game in January as Bama completed an undefeated season to win the title.

"My competitive spirit is always something that I'm just going to go with," he said about making it back for the season's final game. "Just to help my team out and just to grind out a win. Obviously we came out victorious, so that's what it's all about at the end of the day. Just coming out trying to help your team win."

Waddle finished his college career with 106 catches for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns in 34 games.

Wherever he lands on draft night, the 5'9.5'', 180-pound receiver has the tools necessary to make an instant impact as a rookie and could be a Rookie of the Year contender with enough playing time.