ESPN’s Todd McShay has released his 2018 NFL Mock Draft, and projects Washington Huskies defensive tackle Vita Vea as first rounder
University of Washington Huskies defensive tackle Vita Vea was expected to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. Fortunately for both Vea and the Washington Huskies, he returned to the team to lead the defense once more. This year, the Washington Huskies may not persuade Vea to remain in college football. At least, that is the projection of ESPN’s Todd McShay, who now projects Vea as a selection in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Now with Vea under roof, the defense focuses on the 2017 NCAA season. Had he entered the 2017 NFL Draft, he may have found himself caught in the downdraft of defensive linemen. Teammate defensive tackle Elijah Qualls, a versatile defensive lineman, entered the 2017 NFL draft projected to emerge in rounds three or four. But he fell to the Philadelphia Eagles in round six, where he will compete for a starting role.
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Vea has no such uphill climb. He is not only the starter of the Huskies defensive line, but is the assumed leader of the defense as well. Last season, Vea tallied 6.5 tackles for loss and five sacks for the PAC-12 champions. This season, I have projected his numbers to rise to 60 tackles and 10 sacks. In post article assessment, I may be conservative on the number of tackles.
You can check out his hightlight reel from last season’s match with Rutgers here:
Vea does more for the defense than anchor the line. His size and strength command double teams, allow linebackers like Azeem Victor free range to meet the ball carrier at the line of scrimmage. On passing downs, he parts blockers like Moses parting the Red Sea, and charges in at the A gap, the most difficult pass rush for a quarterback to avoid.
Vea is another Huskies player who experienced NCAA playoffs first hand. With a taste of that level of competition, he will find extra motivation to dominate this season. As he does, he will earn that first round ranking projected by ESPN’s Todd McShay