Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle is the sort of inspirational success story agents like to talk up to seemingly marginal NFL prospects. Waddle did not get a NFL combine invitation even though he earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in his senior season at Texas Tech.
The Lions, who had Waddle in for a predraft workout and visit, were enchanted by his thick frame and quick feet. They signed him to a free-agent contract. From there, Waddle began his ascent up the depth chart.
Waddle repeatedly stood out in all his preseason action, playing both left and right tackle. He was the most nimble pass-protector and showed he can be a devastating, road-grading run-blocker. He played well enough that he was a serious consideration for the starting right tackle position.
While he didn't ultimately crack the starting lineup, Waddle now figures prominently into the long-term plans. That's pretty strong for an undrafted rookie. With some polish on his technique and footwork, Waddle has a chance to be very good.