When the Raiders drafted UCLA defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes in the third round this spring, they hoped he could add push to the middle of the line.
The 6-foot-3, 325-pounder was a big, strong man with special athletic abilities – good speed and footwork – for the Bruins, but he’d been injured and inconsistent in college.
But in his regular-season NFL debut Sunday in the Raiders’ victory over the Titans, Vanderdoes showed he could be just what the team is looking for.
Vanderdoes, who started at defensive tackle, had just one tackle on the stat sheet, but he provided much more, getting penetration into the Tennessee backfield and wreaking havoc on blockers. The analytic website Pro Football Focus graded Vanderdoes as having one of the Raiders’ top performances in Week 1.
Wrote PFF: “The Raiders’ third-round selection out of UCLA had an impressive debut, with a quartet of (quarterback) pressures, including two hits on Marcus Mariota. Vanderdoes had some solid moments in run defense as well, but his highlight play was contributing to a day to forget by Jack Conklin by running over the Titans’ second-year tackle to flush Mariota out of the pocket late in the second quarter.”
Vanderdoes’ pressure, in fact, helped clear the way for the Raiders’ only sack on Mariota, shared by Mario Edwards Jr. and Justin Ellis.
Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com noted Vanderdoes was one of several newcomers to make an immediate impact for Oakland Sunday. Tight end Jared Cook, receiver-returner Cordarrelle Patterson and running back Marshawn Lynch all played well, too. Wrote Rosenthal: “Vanderdoes helped end a few Titans drives.”
The 1-0 Raiders will try to get win No. 2 Sunday in their home opener against the Jets.