ALAMEDA — The Raiders got a much-needed boost to their defensive interior by taking UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes in the third round Friday.
Vanderdoes, a Sacramento-area native from Auburn, is a 6-foot-3, 325-pounder who was heavily recruited out of Placer High and originally signed with Notre Dame before going to the Bruins.
He suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament back in 2015 that he recovered from to start all 12 games as a senior, although he didn’t regain the same explosion that he had.
Vanderdoes had 97 tackles, including 12 for loss in the 27 games he played prior to the injury and finished his UCLA career with 126 tackles, 4.0 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.
If the Raiders get him back to the form he showed early in his collegiate career, they could have a player that can finally give them that push up the middle their defense didn’t have last season and Vanderdoes should immediately factor into the defensive rotation.
“His film is inconsistent, honestly,” Del Rio said. “Some is better than others. I just talked to him just a little while ago and said, ‘We’re looking for the high energy guy. The motivated guy.’”
Vanderdoes blamed part of his senior year struggles on an ankle he said he sprained three times. He got as high as 340 pounds before trimming down to 302 for the combine.
“I’ve always been a motivated kid,” Vanderdoes said. “This season, my weight just got out of hand. That’s the way it was. I played on a high ankle sprain this season that I got rolled up on and I fought through with my team. I never once thought about quitting or anything like that, so I kept going and kept playing and doing what’s best because I love football. I missed a whole year of football in 2015 and that made me really realize how much I love this game.”
Vanderdoes said he’s 100 percent healthy from the 2015 ACL injury has no doubt the Raiders will get the high-energy player they are seeking.
“With the combine (and) the Senior Bowl, I got my explosiveness back,” Vanderdoes said. “I got my speed back, my athleticism back. I’m definitely at the top of my shape right now. I’m ready to get back to work and show them the player they saw on the film and the player they wanted to draft and I’m also looking to turn even more heads.”
Del Rio said Vanderdoes could fill a similar role as Stacy McGee, playing anywhere from a six-technique to nose tackle, and hopes he can help bring some interior pass rush.
“I think he has a shot,” Del Rio said. “I think it’s important that we develop the guys that are here, that we get a good offseason with (Jihad Ward). He’s attacking this offseason, and Mario Edwards Jr.I think we’ve got to expect these guys that we’ve taken over the last couple of years to take a step forward for us as well. But certainly, Eddie has an opportunity.”