When anyone describes the most explosive player in the NFL, most fans will say that would be Miami Dolphins Tyreek Hill. However, many fans and analysts ignore Jaylen Waddle as among the best at the wide receiver position. Out of all wide receiver, polls released this off-season, Waddle has been the most underrated.

ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky recently listed his top five candidates for offensive player of the year. Tyreek Hill was number two behind his number one, overrated Garrett Wilson, who caught only 56% of his passes last season. Yet, Jaylen Waddle is often overlooked, left out, or at the bottom of most receiver rankings.

Most analysts have Justin Jefferson at the top of any wide receiver rankings list. That is accurate. Jefferson has the most receiving yards his first two seasons of his career for any wide receiver in the history of the NFL. Odell Beckham, Ja’Marr Chase, and Michael Thomas are the other three active receivers that have the most receiving yards in their first two seasons. Among those active receivers, Waddle has the fifth most receiving yards in the NFL in his first two seasons and is twelfth all-time.

However, context matters. Many people often overlook what happened among the coaching staff in the Miami Dolphins organization in 2021. Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa said in a Muscle and Fitness magazine that they had no plays designed to throw downfield & the plays were mainly for only one receiver in 2021. That explains the low 9.8 yards per reception that Waddle had in 2021.

Unfortunately, fans and analysts looking in from the outside, not realizing what was going on, blamed Waddle’s low yards per reception on Tagovailoa. Many assumed that Tagovailoa was weak-armed and assumed he just couldn’t throw the ball downfield. But that all changed when Mike McDaniel became Miami’s head coach. So did Waddle’s yards per reception totals, leading the NFL with 18.1 yards.

What is interesting among all active receivers, despite Michael Thomas having Brandon Cooks on his team his rookie season, neither Jefferson, Chase, nor Beckham had another star receiver on their team the other year. And though Waddle was the lone receiving star on the Dolphins in 2021, breaking the all-time rookie reception record, he had to share 2022 with Tyreek Hill. Both Jefferson and Hill were among the top three receivers in the NFL in 2022 as being the most targeted.

Since Tyreek Hill was the NFL’s third most-targeted receiver in 2022, targets were taken away from Jaylen Waddle. If Hill wasn’t on the Dolphins and Waddle got all of the 170 targets that Hill did at 18.1 yards per reception, with a 64.1% catch rate, he would have led the NFL with 1,972 yards in 2022.

Before his 2020 college season, ESPN named Jaylen Waddle the most exciting college football player entering the 2020 season. Former Heisman winner DeVonta Smith said that if Waddle had not broken his ankle, he would never have won the Heisman.

Certainly, stats could be argued all day, and hypothetically scenarios could be brought up. But what will happen in Waddle’s future isn’t comparable to what he’s already accomplished so far.

He’s definitely underrated in most receiver polls that have been released this year. I have named some polls where Jaylen Waddle is ranked before the 2023 season.

NFL: 6 (per nfl.com), ESPN: 10 (per ESPN’s PPR fantasy football rankings), Fantasy Football Calculator: 9 (per fantasyfootballcalculator.com), FiveThirtyEight: *according to ESPN Analytics* [tied for 36] (per projects.fivethirtyeight.com), Pro Football Network: 17 (profootballnetwork.com), Fantasy Pros: 10 (fantasypros.com), CBS Sports: 11 (cbssports.com),    PFF: 17 (pff.com), Sporting News: 10 (sportingnews.com), Sports Illustrated: 7 (si.com).

Considering the receivers that many of the polls have ahead of him, Jaylen Waddle is definitely an underrated receiver this season. However, he has the potential to change everyone’s mind in 2023. Once that happens, he will be in the running to be one of the NFL’s best.