When the Green Bay Packers selected Kenny Clark in the first round in the 2016 NFL Draft, it was the fourth UCLA Bruin Ted Thompson and company had drafted in the past four years.
With so much defensive talent coming out of the Pac-12 South this spring, the Packers could add a fifth Bruin to their roster, especially if they consider a guy like defensive lineman Eddie Vanderoes.
Impressively, Vanderdoes weighed in at the NFL Combine this past week at 305 pounds after ending his collegiate career around the 340 mark. The 6-foot-3 nose tackle looked lean and explosive in drills in Indianapolis. Vanderdoes’ strong combine performance was just another notch in his belt of what is turning into a really strong spring for a draft prospect.
The California native turned heads at the Senior Bowl as well back in January. He looked quick working off the line and excelled in one-on-one pass rush drills. There may not be a defensive lineman that goes harder on the field after the snap than Vanderdoes.
His motor is relentless, and coupled with his athleticism and burst off the snap, the former Bruin is a disruptive presence in the middle of the defensive line. Vanderdoes is certainly a player who’s seeing his draft stock rise following the Senior Bowl and NFL Combine.
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Since B.J. Raji‘s departure, the Packers defensive line has needed reinforcement. Adding Clark last year was a step in the right direction, but selecting a guy like Vanderdoes in the upcoming draft would further solidify their front seven.
He’s a guy that would fit well in their system and he would give Green Bay another disruptive presence in their defensive front to pair with Mike Daniels and Clark on the defensive line.
Prior to the Combine, I reached out to Vanderdoes to see how his draft preparation was going. I was also curious to hear his thoughts on his Senior Bowl experience and the possibility of reuniting with Clark on the defensive line.
Enjoy what Vanderdoes has to say about his game, the draft process, and the potential of playing in the NFL with his former teammate.
Q. You missed most of the 2015 season with a significant knee injury, but you were able to come back and put together a strong performance in 2016. What were you able to prove to everyone about your game in your final season at UCLA?
Vanderdoes: It was nice being able to come back and just play football honestly. When you miss out on a whole year of football with your teammates and all of that comradery it brings, you really start to miss it. I was happy that I was able to show that my ACL injured knee wasn’t a problem this season. I did sustain a few other injuries this year. I had three ankle sprains, two of which I got rolled up on and one I had stepped on by an offensive guard’s heel. However, I was happy that I played every single game in the last year of being a Bruin.
Q. Many scouts and analysts I trust were raving about your week down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl. What were you able to accomplish at Senior Bowl week? What do you think made you standout?
Vanderdoes: Well first off, it was nice being able to show the scouts that I am healthy and in good shape so far. I am not satisfied with my weight completely yet, but I am definitely happy with my improvement in that category. I weighed 335 to 340 during season and got down to 320 for the Senior Bowl. I was able to show them my quickness, athleticism, pass rush, and explosion off ball, which I knew that I had when I was healthy. So it was definitely nice being able to show them who Eddie really is. I wanted to show them that I am not just a bull rush type of guy but someone who can win with athleticism, quickness and being educated on my opponent’s pass sets.
Q. Were you able to speak with any teams, scouts, or draft analysts down in Mobile? If so, what kind of feedback did they give you on your game?
Vanderdoes: Yes, I was able to talk to most of the teams in the NFL. It was nice because I got to explain my story to them and let them really get to know me, which was cool and vice versa. It seemed that I got good feedback from the week that I had down in Mobile and it seemed they were very impressed by my athleticism quickness and explosion. So I was happy to hear some of that from them.
Q. You had a good collegiate career, but for those who may have not watched you at UCLA, give us a brief description of the kind of player you are. How would you define your game? What are your strengths as a defensive lineman?
Vanderdoes: As a UCLA Bruin for the past four years I would describe myself as a tough, strong and explosive player with a mean streak. I am very competitive in things that I do. Kenny and I used to compete with each other every day whether it was in the weight room, running on the field, or during the game. It was a lot of fun playing next to Kenny.
Q. You’re a disruptive run defender, but you also have the ability to generate pressure on passing downs. What do you see your role being at the next level? Is there a certain scheme (3-4 /4-3) or defensive line spot that best suits your skill set?
Vanderdoes: Honestly, whatever role the coaches envision me at will be my role. I don’t have a preference on a scheme or any type of defense in my opinion. I can play a 4–3 or a 3-4 scheme because I did it throughout my UCLA career and have never had an issue playing either technique. I can play the three-tech, the one-tech, zero-tech, 4i and five-tech. I’ve done it all to be honest.
Q. The Green Bay Packers could use another talented defensive lineman on their roster, and we feel you’re a guy they may target on draft day. If they did end up drafting you, how would you feel about playing for Green Bay?
Vanderdoes: I would love playing for Green Bay. Being able to play with my old teammates like Kenny, Datone and Brett again would be pretty awesome.
Q. In the last two years I’ve been fortunate enough to interview Kenny Clark and Brett Hundley prior to the draft. What would it mean to you to play alongside Kenny again?
Vanderdoes: Being able to play beside Kenny again would be great because we did it for three years at UCLA and we meshed really well and we have the same mindset out there on the field.
Q. How do you see yourself fitting into the Packers defense?
Vanderdoes: Like I said earlier I see myself fitting in anywhere on that defensive front. I definitely could bring a lot of versatility to their roster.
Q. Regardless of who drafts you, what will that moment mean to you when you finally hear your name called and you’re officially in the NFL?
Vanderdoes: That hasn’t even kicked in yet to be honest. Just being in the situation that I am in now is just surreal. I am finally living my dream out and it feels amazing knowing that this is my job every day. I will be very happy to I have a chance to play for whatever team decides to pick me. I am mostly excited about getting to work and trying to re-establish myself once again.
Q. Finally, before I let you go. When you’re away from football, what do you like to do in your free time?
Vanderdoes: I enjoy shooting guns, fishing and playing video games. I would say those are my go to things. Especially shooting guns since I am out here training in Arizona. Playing video games is mostly when I am too sore to go out and do anything.
Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. We wish you the best of luck with everything.