Eddie Vanderdoes came to UCLA and immediately improved our defense. Many may note that Vanderdoes had originally committed to Notre Dame, but was let out of his NLI due to extenuating family circumstances. I’d say that shows a lot about his character if he is making a choice that could make or break his future and at the same time considering how it will affect his family.
As if his impact on defense wasn’t enough, he recorded touchdowns in both 2013 and 2014 as part of a special teams unit that fans nicknamed the "Doffense". When Vanderdoes came out on the field with Hundley and Company, things were sure to get interesting. He is explosive off the line, quick for his size, and added strength and versatility that quickly made headlines.
Then disaster struck. In 2015, the UCLA defense was bitten by the injury bug, and Vanderdoes was the first to go down. In the season opener, he tore his ACL and was out for the remainder of the season. Despite that, he returned in 2016 and recorded 27 total tackles even though he was often double teamed and playing against offenses that were operating on quick passes designed to disrupt front line defenses.
Check out highlights from 2016, including some beautiful Trojan take downs, thanks to the Pac 12 Network:
Besides flattening his opponents, you’ll note that his technique is that of a man highly qualified to make an NFL roster. He wraps up, follows through, and doesn’t quit until the ball carrier is on his back.
Back in January at the Senior Bowl, Vanderdoes answered all the lingering questions about his previous injuries. He had amazing practices and continued to blow everyone away at the NFL Combine. He showed up lighter, faster, and quicker. He was 110% Eddie and he was ready to move on to the next level. He says that he is still working on getting where he wants to be, which shows a willingness to improve that any NFL team can appreciate.
Check out his Combine highlights, courtesy of DLineVids:
Here are Vanderdoes’s complete NFL Combine results:
Arm Length: 33 1/8"
Hands: 10 5/8"
40 yard dash: 4.99
Bench press: 28 reps
Vertical jump: 28.5"
Broad jump: 111"
3 cone drill: 7.69 seconds
20 yard shuffle: 4.39 seconds
Vanderdoes is obviously quick for his size, as it’s not often we see a defensive tackle over 300 pounds run the 40 in under five seconds.
As noted before, Vanderdoes is extremely athletic, quick for his size, and has amazing technique. He can shake off a blocker to get to the ball carrier like none other, and is someone you want to have on the inside of your defense. He leaves them with nowhere to go and is no stranger to the TFL statistic. His biggest skill, one that he showed off quite effectively in 2016, is his ability to handle the double team and penetrate two offensive lineman.
I don’t know an NFL team that wouldn’t want a front man with that kind of skill.
Injuries are obviously a concern, which he has been able to bounce back from quite effectively. He needs to keep his weight down and stay around 305-310 (which he is working on) to maintain his speed and athleticism.
NFL.com has Vanderdoes going in rounds three or four. CBS Sports has him rated as the #13 defensive tackle in the 2017 draft and going in the fourth round. He’ll end up on a team that is concerned with improving their pass rush, which could include the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, or Minnesota Vikings (and Minnesota is no stranger to the UCLA program). Jared Odrick was released from the Jaguars, which frees up a spot for a defensive tackle in Jacksonville.
While these projections have him going pretty late, I see Vanderdoes as making a huge impact with his desire to improve and solid work ethic.