So ... my question: what is it about him that kept him from being a first-round pick?.
You have to ask that question? Hasn’t the NFL draft proven to a total crap shoot? Players taken too soon, players taken too late, stars coming out of the middle rounds, and flops out of the top? Point is, it’s all wild a** guesses by people that screw up ever year in their jobs as evaluators. The so called ratings by self titled eminences sitting up on those dais, their sources mostly coaches, friends and family of the players, cab drivers, and Lupe who makes the beds in their rooms, (one tuck, one no tuck), some film and the combines. And at the end they have about as much clue as you and me. Kiper, Shefter, all those others.....they make a name by being mostly wrong, the only career where that works.
You seem to be answering a different question than the one I asked. I'm not claiming anyone was right or wrong in their evaluation. As you note so eloquently, evaluators are going to be wrong and much of it is a crapshoot. I'm asking, "Given all the glowing things we read, why he wasn't viewed higher by all of those evaluators?" Is it post-draft hyperbole? Usually, there are character issues, injury issues, production-doesn't-match-athleticism issues, poor combine issues, etc. There is always something that keeps a player from being a perfect prospect. (With Waddle, it is his size and injury history.) What is it with Holland?