Five star high school recruits like Eddie Vanderdoes come with high expectations. Sometimes they live up to it, sometimes they don’t. For Vanderdoes it was the latter.
There are a lot of theories as to why that might be. This past season, Vanderdoes gained a lot of weight and wasn’t performing even as well as he had even in in his sophomore season prior to a torn ACL killed his junior campaign. He had hit 340 pounds last season which was a major factor in that lack of production.
He said in his conference call following being drafted by the Raiders that it was due in large part to a high ankle sprain that bothered him all season. Anonymous scouts who spoke with Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had different ideas.
“Everyone there (UCLA) thought he was better than the guy Green Bay drafted (Kenny Clark),” said one scout. “He came back last year (’16) and he’s lazy and got to 340 and was sluggish. Then he goes to the Senior Bowl and he’s 310 or whatever and played good. Not sure what you’re going to get with him. He was kind of entitled at UCLA. They let him get away with anything he wanted. Wasn’t really coached well. He’s a big athlete. You’re betting on the come.”
“He can be dominant with his flashes,” another scout said. “He’s just not consistent. He was coddled there. It’s a matter of getting around people that won’t take his little sob story about how his hangnail hurts or something and pressure him into playing. He’s a first-round talent.”
When asked about these issues, Jack Del Rio also pointed to coaching as the answer. Most notably, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Joe Gomes.
“His weight has been up and down,” Del Rio said of Vanderdoes. “We expect him to come in here and be a real professional and work hard with Joe Gomes and the strength staff and get himself ready to roll. Come in here and add depth to our defensive line and give us a little interior push.”
“We’ve got dieticians and trainers and conditioners. All the things that we need to do to get him to be at his best. Ultimately, Joe will lead us through that. We’ll scan him, get a real exact reading on what his body comp looks like and how it stacks up and what he needs to do to be his best. We’ll help educate him that way. Then it will be up to him to embrace the things that we talk about and do with our guys. . . Our guys have been really good about it and I think Eddie will do the same.”
Despite having just 3.5 career sacks, the Raiders are looking to Vanderdoes to provide some interior pass rush. He has said he is down to 302 right now and as the scout noted, he was a different player at the senior bowl when down to 310. The Raiers are banking on coaching being the key to getting the most out of Vanderdoes.