ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been focused on the NFL Draft the last few days, and rightfully so. Friday night, however, was the right time to ask about what happened just before.
The Raiders acquired power running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch. If he’s close to top form after a year away from the NFL, the Raiders offense will be tough to stop.
He’s a big physical rusher the Raiders were looking for. The Raiders were the team Lynch wants to finish his career representing. The Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum might be the town’s most popular citizen, someone who consistently gives back to the city he loves.
Lynch was downright giddy after formally signing with the Raiders, greeting everyone in the building with child-like enthusiasm. He got fitted in his Raiders helmet and refused to take it off, wearing it out of the building and the car ride home.
Del Rio loved the energy Lynch brought to the team’s complex, and believes that will carry on while he represents the Silver and Black.
“Authentic passion. That’s what I see,” Del Rio said Friday night. “He’s a homegrown guy. He’s extremely excited about joining this football team and being a part of the Raider Nation. We’re excited to have him.”
Lynch is a bruiser of the highest order, though some may wonder how effective he can be at 31, a year removed from professional football.
“There will be questions about how much is left in his tank, and we’re going to find out,” Del Rio said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else be more excited, more pleased to be joining a team, my team, our team.”
Del Rio understands where Lynch is coming from. The Hayward native longed to be a Raider at some point in his career, but never got the chance.
I told him he was lucky, because I didn’t get a chance to do that as player. I wanted to finish here as a player too. He’s getting that chance and he’s fired up about it.
“He’s a big man, and he plays with the violence that we like and appreciate. I think he’ll look forward to running behind (the Raiders offensive line) and those guys up front.”
Position: Defensive tackle
Weight: 305 pounds
Selection: Third round, No. 88 overall
The Raiders needed depth at defensive tackle. They got some in Eddie Vanderdoes. Whether he helps provide an interior pass rush – he needs improvement in that area -- or joins a run stuffing rotation will be determined in time, but the UCLA product is a solid athlete despite not looking the part. He’s agile with exceptional strength capable of dominating blockers along the interior line.
Good push is needed against the run and pass, especially with Dan Williams released in a salary cap move earlier this month.
Draft analysts say Vanderdoes brings toughness to his position group, and doesn’t mind taking on double teams. He has better pass-rush ability than his stats and shape suggests, assuming he can continue to develop that aspect of the game.
He’s from Auburn, just northeast of Sacramento, and will be happy playing closer to home the next few seasons.
Vanderdoes has an injury history. He missed most of the 2015 season with an ACL tear and didn’t seem to be 100 percent in 2016, when his performance took a dive. If Vanderdoes can return to pre-injury form, the Raiders have a solid player on the roster.
They didn’t produce enough in the middle against the run or pass, and need help to form a rotation capable of slowing opponents down on the interior. He can play on the nose or in three technique if asked, adding strength and versatility to the base package. Creating interior push could help Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin off the edge.
The Raiders entered this draft needing defensive help, and have added three players on that side of the football. The Silver and Black still need help at linebacker as they move into the draft’s third day, where depth can be added to this group.