Earlier this week, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah met with the media to discuss the upcoming NFL free agency period and the NFL draft. During this media event, he spent some time discussing the Detroit Lions, Kenny Golladay, and the best options for the team with the No. 7 pick.
Overall, there were a lot of expected responses. He is interested in seeing how the Lions will use their salary cap space after they elected not to franchise Kenny Golladay. He also believes “there’s four good options when you throw (Micah) Parsons in there with the wide receiver group” for the Lions to choose from with their first-round pick. Like most experts, Ja’Marr Chase (LSU) leads the wide receiver group for him, then suggested Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith are right behind him and will only be separated by which “kind of a flavor” teams are looking for.
Jeremiah did mention that he currently has Waddle rated higher on his board. “I just thought what you get after the catch with some of the shiftiness and then just the home run speed with Waddle is why I ended up with Waddle over Smith,” he said.
As Jeremiah continued to explain why he liked Waddle he brought up a point that surely should have Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes' attention.
“GPS stuff is going to be big this year because we haven’t had as much verified numbers, and talking to some teams around the league, Waddle had the fastest GPS of any receiver in the country,” Jeremiah said. “Your eyes aren’t deceiving you when you watch him. He’s freaky fast. All three of those (receivers) would be good options for Detroit. I don’t think they could make a wrong pick there.”
Relying on GPS data is something Holmes did during his time with the Los Angeles Rams and he is expected to carry over that method to Detroit—which will be especially important this year with no NFL Combine.
Having the fastest GPS speed score in the country definitely matches what you see from him during games. In the clip below, Waddle lines up in the slot across from Eric Stokes—who just ran a laser-timed 4.28 40-yard-dash at Georgia’s Pro Day this week—and effortlessly separates with his elite speed.
Eric Stokes is a great athlete. Not his fault Jaylen Waddle (slot) moves differently than everyone on the planet. pic.twitter.com/zJch0bAMQZ— Jeff Cavanaugh (@JC1053) March 10, 2021
There is also a video clip of him in a photo finish race with Henry Ruggs—who ran a 4.27 40-yard-dash at last year's Combine—before he was drafted 12th overall in last year’s draft.
Having close to confirmed 4.27 speed isn’t necessarily going to make Waddle the leader on the Lions draft board, but it certainly checks an important box as part of his evaluation.