Eddie Vanderdoes stepped on a scale before last weekend’s Raiders rookie minicamp practices. The read out proved a welcome sight.
The Raiders were pleased. So was their third-round pick. That’s his fighting weight.
The Auburn native and UCLA product played the 2016 season in the 340s, and wasn’t the dominant force he was as an underclassman. An ACL tear killed his 2015 season, and series of ankle injuries and poor diet torpedoed 2016.
Vanderdoes wasn’t happy with his final collegiate campaign, and didn’t want to slog his way into the NFL. He lost roughly 40 pounds and regained his signature agility, explosion and power. That was clear at the Senior Bowl and throughout the pre-draft process.
That effort wasn’t just about getting a job. Vanderdoes seems motivated to realize vast potential in the NFL. He reported to minicamp in great shape, hoping to make a solid first impression on his new team.
“I’m in good shape and where I want to be,” Vanderdoes said. “Now, it’s just learning the playbook, learning the technique and taking it to the next level.”
The Raiders would love to see Vanderdoes flourish at a position of need. He could help the Raiders on all three-downs, especially in the base package. The Raiders need better interior run defense and consistent push into the pocket, issues Vanderdoes could help correct even as a rookie.
He isn’t looking that far ahead.
“I’m just taking it day by day, trying to get better, trying to work on my technique,” Vanderdoes said, “trying to get used to the playbook and what the coaches ask me to do.”
Vanderdoes was trying to adjust to his new team during Raiders rookie minicamp, knowing full well he’ll miss a portion of the Raiders offseason program. He won’t be back until June, after UCLA graduates, due to a quirk in the NFL rules.
There’s little concern about time away from the Raiders. He isn’t putting the weight back on. He said the weight wasn’t hard to lose. He has established a new, disciplined diet thanks to his time at the EXOS training facility. Raiders head strength and conditioning coach Joe Gomes worked there before taking his current post, and has implemented many EXOS practices in Alameda.
“I know what they are going to expect out of me,” Vanderdoes said. “They have the same stations for protein supplements that EXOS has. I’m able to thrive in this strength and conditioning program and excited to get to work.”
His friends and family will have a chance to watch him work every home Sunday. Auburn is just northeast of Sacramento, and his hometown is excited to see Vanderdoes play so close to home.
“It’s been a whirlwind in Auburn,” Vanderdoes said. “Most of Auburn is Raiders fans and if they’re not Raiders fans they just became one last week. I’m happy to make my community proud and it’s great that they support me 100 percent. It’s nice that I’m local. Couldn’t be in a better situation than I am right now.”