The Raiders have been searching for an inside pass rush for quite some time now, which this year led to the drafting of Eddie Vanderdoes from UCLA in the 3rd round. This pick received mixed reviews with our readers grading it a B- and Levi Damien going even lower with a C grade. The issue wasn't that it wasn't a need for the Raiders, it was that Vanderdoes was coming off a disappointing redshirt Junior season while returning from a 2015 torn ACL.
Vanderdoes had trouble returning from the ACL and saw his weight balloon up to over 340lbs. While that certainly is a red flag and contributed to him still being around at pick number 88, he also should be commended for dropping 40lbs between the time the season ended and his being drafted by the Raiders. That shows motivation, though it doesn't completely eliminate the fear of his weight issue becoming a consistent problem in the pros.
The interesting thing about Eddie Vanderdoes is that if he hadn't had the ACL injury he was well on his way to being a much higher draft pick. He impressed his freshman year when he came in as a 5-star recruit and he followed it up with an excellent sophomore year in 2014. He seemed ready to capitalize on his momentum when he opened up 2015 with 8 tackles, 2 being for losses but then he tore his ACL. That ended up being the only game that he got to play that season.
If the Raiders get the guy that Vanderdoes was becoming before the ACL injury then they may have gotten the steal of the draft. In fact, believing he'd be the steal of the draft is actually what Vanderdoes himself predicted on Twitter he'd be before he was drafted in the 3rd round.
Whoever drafts me in these next few days is getting the biggest steal of the draft #justsayin ♂️— EV4™ (@Vanderdoes47) April 27, 2017
The young man does not lack in confidence, something that his post draft interview transcript on Raiders.com highlights as well.
Arm Length: 33 1/8”
Hand Size: 10 5/8”
40-yard dash: 4.99
2016: 11 games, 27 TKL, 1.5 TFL, 1.5 SACK
2015: 1 game, 8 TKL, 2 TFL
2014: 13 games, 50 TKL, 5.5 TFL, 2 SACK, 1 FF, 1 FR
2013: 13 games, 37 TKL, 4.5 TFL, 0.5 SACK, 1 FF, 1 FR
3x Honorable Mention All-PAC-12 ('13, '14, '16) and Freshman All-American 1st Team (2013)
Eddie Vanderdoes is a tough, strong defensive lineman who is known as a guy with quick feet who isn't afraid to try to split double teams. Already hands fight well with a strong punch and good balance. Sheds blocks well and has strong awareness of his gap responsibilities, highlighted by his 16 run stops in his 11 games of 2016.
He comes into the league with a wide arsenal of pass rushing moves with him already using the club, swim, spin, and bull rush moves. His agility at his size makes him versatile enough to move around to play multiple positions along the defensive line if needed and he is willing to chase players down from the backside.
His weight fluctuation is an obvious red flag and immediately makes one worry about his conditioning. That is heightened when you add in the weight issues developing after a serious injury, one that he did not rebound from with a good season. His return did not go smoothly from the ACL injury though he says his bad season was a result of several ankle sprains and that his knee is not an issue.
The injury history is enough to have caused his drop in the draft and he could have benefited from staying one more year in college to prove he could stay healthy and productive. With foregoing his last year of eligibility it is yet to be seen if he can return to his pre-ACL injury form.
What he brings to the Raiders:
Eddie Vanderdoes’ strength stands out on tape with his ability to push linemen back into the pocket which is the exact trait the Raiders need to add to their speedy outside pass rushers. Too many times QB's avoid the outside pass rush by stepping forward in the pocket, Vanderdoes' has the strength and willingness to be the guy the QB steps forward into.
With using a high pick on Vanderdoes it shows that the Raiders expect him to be able to help provide that inside pass rush. He also is versatile enough to play multiple positions along the defensive line, something that Reggie McKenzie is known to covet as well. It’s already been stated that the Raiders expect to use him like they did Stacy McGee who they moved around the Dline regularly.
He is a tenacious player who brings toughness and attitude to the Raiders defense, and hopefully that will translate to more sacks for Oakland. If he returns to the pre-ACL injury form the Raiders will have made a great pick, the fear is that he won't be able to ever get back to that player if his weight becomes an issue again.