Texas Tech’s passing attack has been one of the most prolific in the country over the past decade – even after the departure of head coach Mike Leach, the Red Raiders ranked seventh in the NCAA in passing offense in each of the last two years. The lack of success of the quarterbacks running Tech’s spread attack making the translation to the NFL has been well-acknowledged, but it’s also important to note that their offensive tackles, the supposed key pass protectors, have failed to make a dent in the pros. Waddle’s length has a chance to break that trend.
Though few teams from the so-called “power conferences” recruited Waddle heavily out of Columbus, Texas, Tech knew what they had pretty early. He got two starts in his first season with the Red Raiders, the first against elite pass rusher Von Miller and Texas A&M, the other versus Kansas. Waddle has lined up at left tackle for all 25 games Tech has played ever since; he earned honorable mention accolades from Big 12 coaches in 2010, then second-team all-conference honors from coaches and the media as a junior.
Height and extreme length are prototypical for the tackle position, and his foot quickness when in balance makes it very difficult for even the best sack-masters to get the corner. Thick arms that portend his upper-body strength, and also owns enough flexibility and girth in his lower half to anchor against bull rushes. Occasionally asked to go out to linebackers, shows agility to fit onto the block and uses his long arms to shield them from the play – though he can be out-quicked by second-level defenders and doesn’t always sustain. His strength and quickness helps him as a zone run blocker, as well.
Tech’s scheme usually has their linemen moving backwards off the snap, must work on coming hard and low off a three-point stance for the run game. Gives up too much room when backing into pass protection at times, needs his get his hands up and onto defensive ends more quickly to prevent them from getting theirs into his numbers to push him into the quarterback. Loses his kick-slide and get on his heels on some plays, failing to get the needed depth and giving up the corner. Could have a deadly punch if attacking his man instead of catching him.
Waddle’s potential as a starting tackle is obvious, so even though the 2011 second-team All-Big 12 pick has some technique consistency to work out and will need to speed up his game and adjust to a pro-style offensive system, some team will invest a pick in the top half of the draft to help him his realize his bright future.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.