Eddie Vanderdoes: Who he was, is, and could be (2013-2016 Film Study) by Tyler Dickson

Tyler Dickson makes his debut for RaidersAnalysis.com with a detailed scouting report of 3rd round pick, Eddie Vanderdoes. Tyler puts in as much time as anyone I know studying film of upcoming prospects and does detailed work. For this scouting report, he studied film of Vanderdoes from his freshmen year all the way to his senior year to get a good idea of who he was, is, and could be.

With their 88th pick, the Raiders selected UCLA Defensive tackle, Eddie Vanderdoes. Vanderdoes is a California native from the city of Auburn, just outside of the bay area, so he grew up fairly close to Raider Nation. Coming out of high school, Vanderdoes was a 5-star recruit and was the consensus number #1 DT in the nation. He initially signed with Notre Dame but moved back to California due to family reasons and joined UCLA. From 2013 to 2014, his play had him touted as a potential top 50 prospect but an ACL injury in 2015 during the season opener vs. Virginia Tech ended his season and would derail his college career.

Vanderdoes came back in 2016 from his injury but never returned to form. There were flashes of his old self but issues controlling his weight coupled with not being fully recovered held him back. Also, Vanderdoes played through a high ankle sprain this season which could explain some lackluster tape.

Reggie Mckenzie drafted Vanderdoes with the belief that he could return to form after being two years removed from his ACL tear, which is usually the case with knee injuries. He picked Vanderdoes over Jaleel Johnson from Iowa, who was the much safer choice. Vanderdoes is a boom or bust type of pick that teams such as the Seahawks and Raiders like to take gambles on. It’s easy to see the upside Vanderdoes has because he posses all of the tools and traits to be a true difference maker.

First Step/ Snap Reaction

Eddie Vanderdoes doesn’t have an elite first step, and it isn’t bad either. In 2013 as a freshman, it seemed he was a bit slow off the ball but it improved throughout his career, as it seemed the game began to slow down for him.  Trying to beat a blocker to the edge with speed just isn’t his game.

In the 2013 clip, you’ll notice he’s slower than the other lineman to get his hands on the OL. However, this could be due to his role as a two-gapper, rather than a one-gap shooter. In order to two-gap, he would avoid getting upfield to establish a powerful base rather than trying to get upfield.

In the second clip from 2014, he reacts at the same time as the DL.  In his sophomore year, he was more experienced and had a plan of attack. As a result, he played faster and with more confidence. He learned to keep his feet moving forward and used them to gain space rather than sit and wait.

In the third clip from 2016, he’s a lot faster. Even though he was overweight, he still showed improvement in his first step. You could see that he’s the first defensive linemen off the ball. He started out as a freshman mainly playing as a 5 technique defensive end on the edge and eventually was moved inside to play defensive tackle. Being closer to the ball might have helped him. He can see the ball being snapped easier and reacts a lot quicker, giving him an advantage early in the down. His experience as a senior taught him when to plant his feet and anchor or get upfield. It also helped that the coaches varied his assignments more.

Vanderdoes’ second step is actually where he gets his most of his explosion, because of his short tree trunk legs, he doesn’t get much stride from his first step. However, his second gives him the push or burst forward. He also lost weight since college and weighed in at rookie minicamp at 301 lbs., so it’ll be interesting to see if his burst has improved.

Stack and Shed:

The ability to stack a blocker to get push and separation with violent hands is a mainstay for defensive players and especially the front seven. Vanderdoes shows great arm extension in his stack technique in which he can bench press lineman and then sheds the block quickly in one on one matchups. Unfortunately, he didn’t see many single blocks and faced a lot of double-teams.

There were times when Vanderdoes was over-reliant on his spin move to get off blocks. Most of the time it didn’t end in well but, a few times it hit home like in these clips.

 

While it could be an effective counter-move, Vanderdoes should limit his usage of it.

Functional Strength

Vanderdoes has a ton of functional football strength and that is very evident on film. Whether he’s bench pressing linemen, muscling through a double team, or bull rushing right through a lineman. Vanderdoes doesn’t lack when it comes to strength.

Pass Rush:

At UCLA, Vanderdoes mainly played as a five-technique or a 1-technique and was asked to two-gap a lot, so he rarely got to just straight pass rush. When he did get to one-gap and attack, he showed a nice quick swim over move, power bull rush and a decent spin. Again, he shouldn’t be too reliant on this move, as it may not be as effective against professional pass blockers.

Although he hasn’t proven he could be a consistent interior rusher yet, the hope is that his burst improves with his weight loss and that combined with his excellent hands technique could make him one. At the very least, he should be able to collapse the pocket with his strength, which would make Khalil Mack’s and Bruce Irvin’s job a little easier.

Two-Gapping:

Two-gapping is when a defensive linemen is responsible for controlling two gaps. Vanderdoes two-gaps with the best of them, showing great technique, strength, and awareness. A lot of what he does goes unnoticed because he essentially is taking up blocks for his teammates to run free and make tackles. The first phase of two-gapping is controlling both gaps and then picking a gap. The linebacker behind the defensive linemen will play the opposite gap that the defensive linemen chooses. As my friend @DBlaxx told me, “The rule for two-gapping is that the defensive lineman is never wrong.” The technique requires Vanderdoes to play under control and with strength rather than just shooting a single-gap.

When two-gapping, defensive linemen hit blockers straight in the chest, extends their arms to lock out in order to play gaps on both sides of the blocker. Here you see Eddie hit with his hands, gets extension, plays his gap and makes the RB redirect.

He also shows good awareness of when to start to disengage from a block when the two-gaps.

In the clip, Eddie gets underneath his blocker, extends, and finds the ball-carrier through traffic. He is able to properly react and aids in the tackle.

Hand Technique:

Hands technique is probably the most critical aspects of defensive line play. You need quick hands, power in your punch, and proper placement to be consistent. Vanderdoes is proficient in all three phases.

Perhaps, the most crucial phase is hand-placement. You can have all the power or speed in the world, but if you don’t know where to put them, they aren’t much use to you, much like boxing.

Here Vanderdoes gets off the snap and fires his hands into the chest of the offensive guard. Vanderdoes strikes first and as the guard gathers himself and tries to clasp Vanderdoes, Vanderdoes gets his hands outside then quickly swims past the blocker’s hands.

In this clip, Vanderdoes jabs the opposing lineman with his right hand, jolting him back. He positions himself quickly so that the blocker can only target half of him and does an effective job of warding him off with his length before transitioning to a swim move.

Active hands are pivotal as well. You aren’t going to get anywhere with idle hands they say, and the same is true for defensive linemen. It is an under taught and under utilized tool, but Vanderdoes excels at it. On this play, he attacks both blockers in the chest with a powerful punch, which doesn’t allow them to hold him, and works his ways to the QB to make a play.

All three of these clips are from his senior year. Although his hands technique is good, he is just too slow to get to the quarterback because he’s playing over 40 lbs. overweight. With his weight loss, he’ll be able to get some quickness and speed back.

Anchor:

Like a ship dropping its anchor to stop it from flowing away with the current, a defensive lineman needs to hold their own and not get washed out with flow of the offensive line. Whether it’s against one blocker or two, a defensive lineman needs to hold his ground so that the offense cannot get a strong push in the interior.

Vanderdoes showed he had the ability to anchor from an early age. As you can see in the clip, as a freshman, he was is able to take on a double team and two USC lineman struggling to move him off his spot. Vanderdoes has almost perfect technique here. The only thing he could do better, is split it but he still occupies two blocks and held his ground.

Here his technique is even better as a senior and doesn’t get moved a step. He sets his feet anchors the double team then splits it to get free if he had needed too.

Finishing ability:

It is all fine and dandy if you can make it into the backfield quickly but if you don’t know how to finish take the runner or QB to the ground, It doesn’t matter much.

Finishing a play is crucial for defensive lineman as it can turn a one-yard play into a 60-yard play or vice versa.

Vanderdoes once again punches with strength and shocks the offensive guard backwards, but gets blindsided by the center. Remarkably, he is still able to keep his eyes on the ball carrier, and even tripped up the ball carrier, while he was on the ground.

Then in this clip, you see Vanderdoes do everything right and is in the position to make a play. However, he fails to finish with a tackle. It wasn’t a big gain but, could have been a yard or two less. In a game of inches, finishing on plays like this is vital.

Overall, finishing is something Eddie is going to have to work on. He wins quite a lot of plays early and is disruptive but doesn’t finish them consistently. His weight loss may help with his closing speed and consequently his ability to finish.

Balance through Contact:

Balance is important for a defensive lineman because he needs to be able to absorb contact from a blocker, stay upright, and hold his ground. It is also vital for taking on cut blocks.

In the clip, you’ll see both examples of Eddie showing balance through contact.

How he fits:

After breaking down his film, Vanderdoes can fit anywhere along the interior defensive line. He can anchor at 1-tech or even push the pocket as a three or five-tech, which could make Mack and company even better.

From his 2016 tape, it’s is evident that he needed to lose weight. He played his senior season at over 340 lbs. He was sluggish and not very explosive at times but he showed up to the senior bowl trimmed down, weighed less at the combine, and showed up to Raiders rookie minicamp at 301 lbs..

Right now, Vanderdoes’ game is mainly based on his strength and power. The Raiders should take advantage of his ability to anchor and natural strength by assigning him to play the role that Dan Williams played last year. Williams rotated in as a run stopper and block-eater at 1 technique. If Vanderdoes continues his upwards trend, he could be very effective in that role and might even push Jihad Ward for snaps as an interior pass-rusher eventually.

 

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