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Eddie Vanderdoes May Be the Missing Piece for the Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders needed another piece to help with sacks and stopping the run. Drafting UCLA defensive standout, Eddie Vanderdoes may be the answer.

With the Oakland Raiders third pick in the 2017 draft, they selected UCLA standout and California native, Eddie Vanderdoes. Having addressed their secondary issues in the first two rounds, Oakland committed to getting All-Pro, Khalil Mack, some help up front.

The Raiders were dead last in the NFL in sacks last year, a statistic that general manager Reggie McKenzie and defensive coordinator, Ken Norton hope to improve on in 2017.

Vanderdoes has been running with the first-team defense all camp, and has been getting the attention of veterans and coaches alike for his explosive play.

Eddie Vanderdoes May Be the Missing Piece for the Oakland Raiders

With all the accolades coming out of Napa on the rookie defensive tackle, Oakland looks to be on the right track to improving their run defense from a year ago.

The Raiders front seven gave up the tenth most rushing yards in the league last year. And in a division with running backs like Spencer Ware and Melvin Gordon, the Raiders need to improve if they want to have a shot at the Super Bowl this year.

Mack and Bruce Irvin are the unquestioned anchors of the Raider defense. They play with an intensity that is unrivaled in the league, and their individual 2016 numbers are proof of it.

All that they accomplished last year, however, was still not enough to win the AFC West. Adding another explosive talent to the defensive line is what the Raiders needed. Applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks and making it difficult to run the ball is why the Raiders selected Vanderdoes in the third round.

Vanderdoes’ technique is something to behold, and has been compared to defensive legend, Justin Tuck, by Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.

Coming out of college, Vanderdoes’ natural athletic ability earned him high marks from scouts. However, injury concerns (ACL) and issues with his weight kept many teams from spending an early draft pick on the former five-star recruit.

Since joining the Raiders, both his weight, and his injury issues, have made news for different reasons. Having missed at least one practice with a knee issue this summer, Vanderdoes and the Raiders can’t be careful. The issue turned out to be nothing serious, but if taken lightly, could become an issue late in the season.

Vanderdoes’ weight is down to around 305, a drastic drop from the 340 pounds he was at during his last season at UCLA. A faster, more agile Vanderdoes is something teams in the AFC West are sure to take note of.

Taking The Next Step

Eddie Vanderdoes and the Oakland Raiders have high expectations for this season. Winning the AFC West is only the beginning. With their sights set on the Super Bowl, the Raiders will need everyone to perform, especially their rookies.

With first and second round picks Gareon Conley and Obi Malifonwu out with injuries, Vanderdoes is the only rookie making any impact for the Silver and Black. That impact may be exactly what the Oakland Raiders defense needs to take that next step towards greatness.

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