The Miami Dolphins went into the NFL Draft with a major opportunity to add to their offensive weapons, and after two pass-catchers went off the board ahead of their pick, they selected dynamic Alabama receiver Jaylen Waddle with the No. 6 overall choice.
Waddle reunites with former Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
The Dolphins then kept it local with their other first-round pick, taking University of Miami defensive end Jaelan Phillips at No. 18.
Waddle, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound Houston native, has flashed plenty of talent but was limited to six games this season at Alabama because of a fractured ankle. In three collegiate seasons, he played 34 games, making 106 catches for 1,999 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“I haven’t talked to Tua yet, but I can tell you I’m excited just to get back with him, get everything down, get our timing down and things like that,” Waddle said after being selected. “Luckily for me, we spent time together at Alabama, so we’ve just got to keep going.”
Miami chose him over Alabama’s other top receiver prospect in the draft, Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith.
Smith eventually went No. 10 to the Philadelphia Eagles, who also have a former Alabama quarterback in Jalen Hurts.
The Dolphins picked their pass-catcher after the Atlanta Falcons picked Florida tight end Kyle Pitts at No. 4 and the Cincinnati Bengals went with LSU receiver Ja’Marr Chase at No. 5.
On the other hand, plenty of fans were happy with Waddle pic.twitter.com/Uig44LzuiA— Clay Ferraro (@ClayWPLG) April 30, 2021
Miami’s second first-round pick offered a chance to bolster their defense.
The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Phillips is one of the top pass-rushers in the draft. He battled injuries before transferring to Miami from UCLA, but the California native was a second-team All-American this past season after finishing with eight sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss.
“Words can’t even describe how I feel right now,” Phillips said. “It’s literally like an out-of-body experience, but I’m just so grateful for Miami as a city. They embraced me when I came into the ‘U,’ and they’ve supported me for the last two years of my journey, so there’s no place I’d rather be. Back to the 305. It’s just crazy. I’m so excited.”
Phillips said he just moved his belongings out of Coral Gables and back home to the Los Angeles area, so he has “another road trip coming up” to move back to South Florida.
Another UM defensive end, Gregory Rousseau, will also be playing in the AFC East. He was picked 30th by the Buffalo Bills. Rousseau was second in the nation with 15.5 sacks in 2019 before opting out of the 2020 season.
The Dolphins originally had the No. 3 overall pick from their trade of offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Houston Texans, but they made two deals last month to land back at No. 6 and add future draft assets.
The San Francisco 49ers used that No. 3 pick to take Trey Lance of North Dakota State, the third quarterback after Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence went No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars and BYU’s Zach Wilson went No. 2 to the New York Jets.
Two teams in the Dolphins’ division picked QBs in the first round, with the New England Patriots taking Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 15.
After Thursday’s first round, the draft continues on Local 10 with Rounds 2-3 on Friday at 7 p.m. and then concludes with Rounds 4-7 Saturday beginning at noon.
The Dolphins have two picks in the second round (No. 36 overall from the Texans and No. 50), plus No. 81 in the third round.