Jul 27, 2013; Allen Park, MI, USA; Detroit Lions offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle (66) during training camp at the Detroit Lions training facility. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Who saw this coming? LaAdrian Waddle shocked everyone by blowing people’s doors off in training camp and earning a roster spot. Now he’s starting at right tackle and — get this — had PFF’s highest-graded game of any Lions offensive lineman all season against Dallas, with a stunning +4.8. We obviously need to see more before making any sweeping judgments, but games like that don’t just happen. Still, as good as he looked, we’ve only seen one game, so I can’t put him off the charts. Yet.
Waddle has played in only two games, and he did look a bit overmatched filling in at left tackle against the Bengals. But his impact grade is still coming up a fair deal because he played a nearly flawless game in his first NFL start, and he wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the starting lineup this season.
Can I put this grade higher? Waddle has looked great by any standards. By UDFA standards, he’s an All-Pro. Again, you have to temper expectations for Waddle because he and his career are so young, but it’s for the same reason that he’s so exciting. He came out of absolutely nowhere in training camp, and could be the starting right tackle of the future by the end of this season. Maybe he already is.
It’s one thing to get decent value out of undrafted players. It’s great if you can find a special teams guy or role player. This is on another level. Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard may not have jobs to come back to when they get healthy. If Waddle plays the rest of the season like he played at Dallas, change all of these grades to A+. In the meantime, well, he’s played a game and a half.