What to expect from Raiders draft pick Eddie Vanderdoes

When the Oakland Raiders drafted Eddie Vanderdoes in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, I and many other Raiders fans were not too excited about the pick. But it didn’t take me long to come around and eventually start really liking the pick.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pick wrought with uncertainty and risk. Perhaps even more risk than with first round pick Gareon Conley (though a risk of a completely different nature). But it’s also a pick with a ton of potential at a position that the Raiders were in desperate need of help.

Eddie Vanderdoes won’t be a starter in year one and there’s even a chance he won’t ever be a starter. But even if he’s limited to being a role player, he plays a very important role and one where you can have a major impact on games without being a starter. What Vanderdoes brings to the Raiders is the interior pass rush that was missing last season. Have you sat and asked yourself how the Defensive Player of the Year who is an edge rusher, was on a team that had the least sacks in the league? Seems a bit odd, right?

It’s because the Raiders had plenty of pressure coming off of the edges thanks to Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, but almost no push up the gut. That gave opposing quarterbacks a clean pocket to step up into when Mack and Irvin came around the edge. It may not seem like a lot, but many times, the extra second or two that a quarterback buys when they step up into the pocket is enough time to find an open receiver and make a play.

Last season, the Raiders expected that interior rush to come from Mario Edwards, Jr. and when he got hurt, they didn’t have anyone who could fill that role. This year, they aren’t taking that chance. While Edwards will see more snaps and at more important times than Vanderdoes, there will be plenty of snaps to go around. And if Edwards gets injured again, there will be a player who fills the same role and who is ready to step in.

That’s the beauty of being a pass rusher in today’s NFL. You don’t have to be a starter to have a huge impact. If Vanderdoes comes in on a crucial third down late in a close game and makes the play, that might be a bigger impact than the defensive tackles who saw 90% of the snaps that day.

I wouldn’t expect Vanderdoes to be a big time player in year one, but I do expect to see him flash at times. I expect him to get a decent number of snaps and show enough to build confidence in coaches and fans alike that he’s a long term answer to the need at interior pass rusher.

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