Jaguars: Would drafting WR Jaylen Waddle have made sense?

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
Jaylen Waddle (Alabama) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) /

There’s no doubt quarterback Trevor Lawrence was going to be the Jacksonville Jaguars’ choice with the first overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he isn’t the only player the organization thought highly of. It was recently discovered that the Jags really liked Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who ended up landing with the Miami Dolphins at number six.

Every NFL front office has a different way to grade players. The Jaguars assigned an ‘8.0’ but he wasn’t the only player to get that mark. Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports recently spotted the fact that Jacksonville gave Waddle the same grade. He noticed that in the Jags’ video series ‘The Hunt’, the grades for both players are clear.

"Right around the 6:51 mark of the video, we see Jags owner Shad Khan placing the Lawrence magnet next to the team’s slot on the draft board. But if you really squint, you can see what all the magnet says — including his draft grade."

Edholm also points out that the Jaguars had a grade of 7.0 on both quarterback Zach Wilson and running back Travis Etienne. Meanwhile, they had offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker had a 7.5, safety Andre Cisco had a 6.9, and offensive lineman Walker Little a 6.8. Without knowing Jacksonville’s grading system, it’s hard to tell what each grade means, but it’s unlikely that the Jags wanted fans and other teams to know this information.

Could the Jacksonville Jaguars have drafted Jaylen Waddle?

Even though Lawrence and Waddle had the same grade, there’s no way the Jaguars would have drafted the latter with the top pick in this year’s selection meeting. The last receiver drafted first overall was Keyshawn Johnson in 1996 and before him, Irving Fryar in 1984. Instead, the Jaguars might’ve traded up if he had fallen off the top 10. If Waddle had been available at 15th, would Jacksonville have pulled the trigger and move up? They had the draft picks to make it possible.

Looking back, it would’ve been interesting to see Waddle join the Jaguars’ wide receiver corps. Heading into the 2021 season, it’s one of the team’s deepest position groups, so the Jags would possibly need to move on from one of their current wideouts to make space for the Alabama product. D.J. Chark Jr. is entering a contract year, and the current regime didn’t draft Laviska Shenault Jr., either one could have been a potential trade candidate if the Jags had drafted Waddle.

In the end, the Jaguars are surely pleased with their draft haul. Moreover, just because they like one player doesn’t mean they have to acquire him. Jaylen Waddle has the potential to have a fine NFL career and the Jags will find out firsthand how good he is when they face off against the Miami Dolphins in Week in 6.

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