Kenny Bigelow vs. Eddie Vanderdoes: Which 5-Star DT Is Better?
Two of the better players and prospects in this 2013 recruiting class are stud DT's Eddie Vanderdoes and Kenny Bigelow. These two interior defensive linemen are top-notch talents that have the ability to grow into being front line starters in college.
Moving forward is a 5-star battle series. Today, let's take a look at Bigelow versus Vanderdoes to see just which of these two is the better prospect. This should be a fun matchup to read about because you can't go wrong with either guy.
The kicker in all this is that the pair may be teammates in college. I can hear QB's and RB's trembling at my desk as I write this!
Bigelow is from Delaware and played his senior season in Maryland. He's grown to be 6'3" and 297 pounds. However, Bigelow doesn't look like he weighs nearly 300 pounds because his frame is so athletic. He probably is close to maxing out his frame and will only add on a few more pounds in college because he likely is peaking now.
Vanderdoes is out of Northern California and is a mammoth at 6'3", 310 pounds. He's a very thickly built prospect with a big upper body and a thick trunk. I wouldn't be shocked if he added an extra 10-15 pounds in college.
Athleticism and Snap Quickness
This is an area where Bigelow has special traits. He can fire out of his stance at the snap and explodes well. Bigelow is an athletic specimen, and his athleticism has let him be used as a FB, TE, DT, DE and LB in his high school career. He's one of the more sudden and athletically gifted DT prospects in recent history.
The big man has "good" snap quickness but it's not "great." Vanderdoes can re-direct better in space than most big-bodied players and is a solid athlete. He'll overrun some plays on the field, however, and is just not as athletic as Bigelow is.
Point of Attack Strength and Block Shedding Skills
A strong player, Bigelow plays stout and physical at the point of attack. He doesn't back down from anyone and sheds with quickness. He can "out-athlete" a massive blocker, but Bigelow can use power to walk an OL back and escape clutches.
While Bigelow sheds with more quickness, Vanderdoes does it with brute strength and power. He has heavy hands and can use his mitts to punch a blocker at the point of attack, get clean and make a play. Vanderdoes can stack a block if asked to, too.
Advantage: Vanderdoes (power) Bigelow (quickness)
Run Defense and Scheme Reading
Bigelow is more of a gap-penetrator who rather shoot creases and make plays in the backfield. He also has the range to lateral move across the front to make a stop at the line of scrimmage. Bigelow is a talented run defender that quickly locates the ball, reads blocking schemes and can skinny through double teams.
Vanderdoes isn't the playmaker that Bigelow is, but he can get up under a blocker's pads, stack 'em up to read the run and anchor at the line of scrimmage. He's not going to penetrate gaps often, rather than holding up plays by dropping his anchor and making a mess in the middle. He is a little more active than given credit for.
Pass Rushing and Hand Usage
Again, this is where Bigelow's explosiveness and athleticism ascends him to the top. He can jump on top of an OL at the snap, convert speed to power when he has the space and has a great burst on the passer. Bigelow will fight with his hands, but he needs to add more to his overall pass rush plan.
Clearly, Vanderdoes understands the importance of hand usage as a pass rusher. He uses his mitts well and combines them with his strength to make himself a daunting bull rusher. I don't project him to be a sack guy in college but he will present a lot of problems to a pocket on passing downs.
Advantage: Bigelow has more quickness and potential to get sacks. Vanderdoes is your guy if you like power rushers.
Ball Carrier Pursuit and Range
Due to his agility, quickness and speed, Bigelow has great range for a DT. He will not be limited to making plays in just the short box in college as he can pursue ball carriers to the perimeter. He shows a solid burst to close and finish.
For as big as he is now, Vanderdoes does flash some nice range. I think it'll decrease in college as he gets bigger and the ball carriers get faster, however. Vanderdoes has solid build up speed and once he gets his big legs churning, he can really move.
There's some talk that Bigelow could get a crack at playing strong side DE at USC and while that's nice, I see him fitting as a full-time 3-technique DT. He's a Warren Sapp-type that is best at using his superior quickness and athleticism on guards in a 40 front.
Due to his size, strength and good snap quickness, there's several things you can do with Vanderdoes. I can see him playing well in a 30-front as both a 5-technique DE and as a NT. Or, he can play both DT and the 0/1-technique in a 4-man defensive front. He's a potentially pretty versatile DL prospect.
Boy, if I'm USC then I'm hustling up a storm to get Vanderdoes in the fold because the thought of these two being a tandem is such fun to think about.
Their skills would work so well together because they compliment each other. However, if I were forced to pick one and only one, then the guy I'd go with is Bigelow.
He isn't as strong as Vanderdoes, but it's not by much, and he's a more explosive player in the trenches. Yet, like I said, each guy has a chance to be really good in college.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.