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Ron Rivera hit a proverbial home run with his first draft pick as the head coach of the Washington Football Team.
Chase Young, selected second overall, exceeded expectations by making the Pro Bowl, earning Defensive Player of the Month in December and becoming the franchise's first Defensive Rookie of the Year. His game-changing plays, combined with his "crazy unusual" leadership, immediately made him one of the faces of a team on the rise.
Rivera's second swing will be with the No. 19 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and he'll have a pair of new executives -- general manager Martin Mayhew and executive vice president of football/player personnel Marty Hurney -- helping him make that decision. They'll aim to add another valuable piece to help build a consistent winner.
In anticipation for that selection, which will be made April 29, Washingtonfootball.com will highlight one mock draft from a notable draft expert each week and delve into how that player would fit with Washington. Here are the analysts who have been highlighted over the past month:
Next up is NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter:
Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
Washington could use a high-end wide receiver to pair with Terry McLaurin, and the 2021 NFL Draft class is full of them. In Reuter's latest four-round mock draft, Rivera and the team's revamped front office trade up to select Alabama standout Jaylen Waddle 15th overall.
"In this scenario, Washington finds a new quarterback among the veteran ranks," Reuter wrote. "The team would then need to add another playmaker on offense to complement Terry McLaurin, and only Waddle's size and 2020 injury allows for him to still be available here."
Reuter has Washington giving the New England Patriots one of its third-round picks to move up four spots in the first round, but based on Waddle's skillset and production, it seems like he would be worth the cost.
Waddle, a former four-star recruit out of Texas, was named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2018 after hauling in 45 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns. And he accomplished all of this on an offense that included a pair of first-round receivers (Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III), a second-round tight end (Irv Smith Jr.) and the 2020 Heisman Trophy winner (DeVonta Smith).
The 5-foot-10, 182-pound speedster was not as productive as a sophomore, but he still earned All-American honors from various pundits thanks to his explosiveness on offense and special teams. In addition to racking up 560 yards and six touchdowns, he amassed 487 punt return yards and averaged 24.4 yards per return, both of which were by far the best in all of college football. He also returned a punt and a kick for a touchdown.
While Waddle's first two seasons at Alabama showcased his elite physical skillset, his junior campaign was one of toughness, determination and resilience. After putting up ridiculous numbers over his first four games -- 25 catches for 557 yards and four touchdowns -- Waddle suffered what head coach Nick Saban called a season-ending ankle injury against Tennessee on Oct. 24. (It was later determined that Waddle fractured his ankle.)
But about 12 weeks later, Waddle suited up for the Crimson Tide's national championship game against Ohio State. He was visibly hobbled but managed to record three catches for 34 yards to cap his college career with a title.
"Just shows the commitment, how much he loves his team," Smith said of Waddle following the game. "Him just wanting to be out there, just doing what he can, give us everything he got. That was just the message: give us what you got, we'll take anything."
"That shows what type of person he is, to put literally his career and body on the line to help us out and help us to win a game," quarterback Mac Jones added. "That means so much to everybody. I'm so proud of Waddle."
Waddle recently told NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano that he plans to go through combine-like drills and position work during Alabama's Pro Day on March 23. Above all, he wants to show NFL scouts that he's healthy and the best receiver in the draft.
"I just think I'm different," he said. "I think you can put me anywhere -- special teams, backfield, outside, inside. If there's a play to be made, I believe I can make it. So versatility, you can put me on special teams and much more than just a receiver. I'm a playmaker and I can make plays for any team and I can go well in any offense."
Waddle is widely considered the No. 2 wideout prospect behind LSU's Ja'Marr Chase but may be the best playmaker, regardless of position. Adding a player like that would go a long way towards helping Washington become a more dangerous offense.
"He has the ability to line up inside or outside," NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah wrote in his latest prospect rankings. "His acceleration in his release is elite. He destroys the cushions he receives from defenders in a hiccup and can find a second and third gear once the ball is in the air. He's at his best on runaway routes, but he flashes the ability to efficiently gear down and work back downhill. ...Overall, Waddle isn't quite as strong as Tyreek Hill, but he's capable of having the same impact in the NFL."