Raiders third-round draft pick Eddie Vanderdoes got off to a slow start this spring when he couldn’t participate in some spring drills because UCLA was still in session.
But since training camp began, the former Bruins standout defensive tackle has made up for lost time. Now, as the Raiders get set to play their first exhibition game this Saturday night against the Cardinals in Arizona, Vanderdoes already is listed as a starting defensive tackle for the silver and black.
In the first depth chart released by the Raiders Monday, Vanderdoes is listed as a starting tackle, alongside Justin Ellis, with Khalil Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. at the defensive ends.
Vanderdoes has been a consistently strong performer in training camp, getting push against the offensive line and often breaking into the backfield for sacks.
Though he couldn’t take part in some spring practices, he made sure he was up to speed on the team’s defensive system and schemes.
“I was chomping at the bit to get out there with the guys,” Vanderdoes said after training camp began.
The Raiders hope Vanderdoes can add to the team’s inside pressure and allow edge rushers such as Mack, Edwards and linebacker Bruce Irvin to get to the quarterback.
Now that he’s in pads and making his case for a starting role, Vanderdoes says he’s taking advantage of the knowledge imparted by veteran players, including Mack, the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
“I’m not scared to ask,” Vanderdoes told reporters. “I know I’m a rookie but I’m not a shy person. If I feel like I have a question and I see him doing something or him teaching something I’ll go up and I’ll be like, ‘Hey, can you watch me on this play,’ and we’ll just talk about it. He’ll show me how he does it. I mean, it should be a crime not to get information from guys like Khalil and Bruce Irvin. They’ve done it. Irvin’s done it for six, seven years, Khalil obviously going into his fourth year, so they’re obviously doing something right, so I just try to use their advice.”
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. says he likes what he sees from Vanderdoes and the fact he’s “jumped right in, no problem.”
“He’s been a student of the game,” Norton told reporters recently. “I think he understands how to get lined up. He understands the blocking schemes. He understands how to get on edges.”