The majority of draft picks are expected to make the team. Undrafted rookie free agents, on the other hand, not so much.
Fauria and Waddle made Detroit's initial 53-man roster after roster-trim-down-day in the NFL on Saturday
“Words can't describe the joy in my heart from my hard work being rewarded! I will never forget this day. WUTTUP DETROIT, I'M A LION!” Fauria tweeted Saturday after the roster cuts were announced.
He’s expected to be a big target -- literally -- in the Lions’ offense this season, especially in the red zone.
Waddle was on the team’s radar even before the draft. He was one of their 30 pre-draft visits. They quickly moved to sign him after the draft and his familiarity with the coaching staff, the facility, and knowing the team was unsettled at the position, all played a part in him signing with Detroit.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
The Lions love his size (6-6, 321) and long arms (36 inches) and his potential to one day be a starter in this league.
"Coming from an undrafted rookie free agent, he’s been very impressive in camp and done very well in the preseason games," head coach Jim Schwartz said of Waddle last week.
"He’s rusty in some things. He played his whole college career in the left side. When he moves over to the right, he’s not 100 percent with the footwork and things like that. It’s improving and he’s a player on the rise for sure.”
Waddle will likely start the season as the fourth tackle and inactive on game day, but who knows how long that’ll last if he continues to develop as he has the last month.
Fauria told me last week that going undrafted might have been the best thing that could have happened to him.
The same can probably be said for Waddle after Saturday.
Both are proof that the route to the NFL doesn't matter. Only what a player does when they get there.