In-depth look at Raiders third round pick Eddie Vanderdoes

In the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders once again surprised many by taking defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes.

With plenty of recognizable names still on the board, Vanderdoes is a name that many fans, even ones who follow the draft closely, were not aware of. Not that it’s worth a whole lot but I had graded him out to being a 5th round talent.

But that’s really one of the major problems with evaluating the draft so quickly after it happens. Value is subjective and all of the profiles on all of the players have their flaws. The draft is the farthest thing from a science that you can find. It’s difficult and people are wrong more often than right.

So was Vanderdoes a reach according to some? Sure. But does that matter much? Not really.

What matters is what Vanderdoes does from here on out, not where he was picked. Unfortunately, how he does from here on out can go in two  very distinctly different ways.

In 2014, Vanderdoes was one of the better defensive linemen in Div I football and was seen as a future first round pick. But then he blew out his knee in 2015 and missed most of the season. When he came back in 2016, he didn’t look anything like what he was before the injury. The quickness and burst that made him so good was nonexistent. In it’s place, an overweight and slow player who was utterly unimpressive.

And then the senior bowl came.

Vanderdoes showed up about 15 pounds lighter and was an absolute beast. He dominated both practices and the game, showing off that burst and quickness that once made him a top NFL prospect. If you watched that game film and had not seen film of him during the 2016 season, you would swear he was a first or second round talent. But that’s just one game and it’s hard to know for sure if that’s something he can do one a consistent basis.

It’s probably about as boom or bust of a pick as you can get in the third round.

Vanderdoes has it in him to be a top flight player who provides exactly what the Raiders need in the middle of their defensive line. Some might scoff at me but I really believe that if Vanderdoes returns to his 2014 form, he will be a more impactful player than Mario Edwards, Jr.

But if Vanderdoes can’t keep the weight off and continue to play with that burst, it’s going to be hard for him to be very productive in the NFL. He’s not big or strong enough to be a space eating run stuffer, even when he’s playing overweight. So if he can’t stay slim and fast, he really doesn’t offer a whole lot to the team.

It’s a risky pick but one that we should know whether it pays off rather quickly. Vanderdoes has the talent to make an impact right away as a rotational player. IF he can be the guy we saw in the Senior Bowl. Time will tell.

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