Lions "comfortable" with Waddle, Hilliard at right tackle

Posted Mar 2, 2014

Martin Mayhew feels good about having LaAdrian Waddle and Corey Hilliard competing for the right tackle spot, but says the team won't rule out adding talent there

LaAdrian Waddle, like tight end Joseph Fauria, turned a draft snub into a big role with the Detroit Lions as an rookie free agent.

Waddle was signed by the Lions immediately after going undrafted and made the team out of training camp as a developmental tackle.

Injuries to veterans Jason Fox and Corey Hilliard midway through the season, however, thrust Waddle into the starting lineup. Waddle, who started 40 games at Texas Tech, made the most of his opportunity.

LaAdrian WaddleT LaAdrian Waddle (Photo: Gavin Smith)

Hilliard injured a knee Week 7 vs. Cincinnati and Waddle made his first career start the following week vs. Dallas. All he did was help the Lions set a franchise single-game record with 638 total yards (143 rushing, 480 passing) from scrimmage.

He started the next seven games before missing the season finale with an elbow injury. He initially injured the elbow Week 14 in Philadelphia.

Waddle and Hilliard are both under contract in 2014 and Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine he feels good about the right tackle position.

“I'd feel very comfortable,” Mayhew said. “They both played really good football for us last year.

“Waddle got hurt with an elbow, and his play kind of ticked down at that point when that happened. But he was playing really good football before that happened.

“Corey was playing great before he got injured too. Both of those guys are quality players on our offensive line and we wouldn't shy away at all from putting those guys on the field. I feel comfortable with those guys out there.”

But that doesn’t mean the Lions wouldn’t rule out adding more talent to an offensive line that finished as one of the best units in the NFL last season.

There’s a chance one of the top three tackles available in May’s NFL Draft –Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, Penn State’s Allen Robinson and Michigan’s Taylor Lewand – could be on the board when the Lions are the clock with the 10th overall pick.

“By the same token, if you can upgrade that position, I think you have to look into that,” Mayhew said.

The Lions certainly have more pressing needs to address at receiver and in the secondary, but Mayhew has always said his draft philosophy is best player available.