Waddle's surgically repaired right ankle is "still somewhat of an issue" nine months after the initial injury, according to PFN's Adam Beasley.
The sixth overall pick dislocated his ankle last October and had surgery the same night, later making it back for a brief appearance in the College Football Playoff National Championship, where he caught three passes for 34 yards just two and a half months after suffering the injury. Despite the unusually quick return to action and subsequent early draft slot, Waddle reportedly still walks with a slight limp at times and has been tightly wrapping his right ankle before every practice. Then again, he's at least been practicing, while fellow Miami wideouts DeVante Parker (PUP - undisclosed), Preston Williams (PUP - foot) and Will Fuller (undisclosed) all were absent from Thursday's session. Waddle's ankle may continue to require some maintenance, but he did say he's feeling good and has been handling full workloads in practice, thus beginning to build his case for a top-three role right out of the gate. The Dolphins do have a deep group at wide receiver, however, so they can afford to rest Waddle at some point -- or ease him in with a limited role -- if the ankle becomes more of a problem.
Waddle signed his rookie contract, which is worth $27.1 million and includes a $17.1 million signing bonus, with the Dolphins on Friday, Josh Tolentino of The Athletic reports.
The 2021 sixth overall pick is now set to reunite with his college quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, on the Dolphins. Will Fuller figures to have the same type of field-stretching role Waddle will have this season but is only on a one-year deal; therefore, whatever Fuller's short-term impact may be, don't expect it to hinder Waddle too much from emerging as the team's top future playmaker for years to come.
The Dolphins selected Waddle in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, sixth overall.
Waddle (5-foot-10, 180) is a uniquely explosive player and in Miami he'll reunite with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who helped make Waddle an incomparable big-play threat at Alabama. On just 133 collegiate targets Waddle produced 1,999 yards (15.0 YPT) and 17 touchdowns, and if he had run a 40-yard dash before the draft it likely would have been well below the 4.40-second mark. Will Fuller is an excellent big-play threat for Miami but he's suspended for one game and only on a one-year deal, so Waddle could make a short-term impact in addition to his very likely long-term contributions.