Washington Football defensive tackle Vita Vea dominated the Pac-12. That should propel him to a top-10 pick in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft
Washington Football‘s defensive tackle Vita Vea is an animal with a ferocity fans seldom witness at the NFL level. Measuring in at 6-foot-5 and 340 pounds, he is already a behemoth. Now let’s factor in the fact that he runs a 4.8 40-yard dash. With that, I’m already shaking in my cleats if I’m an opposing quarterback. He combines all of this physicality with one of the brightest defensive linemen in the NCAA. And so, the result? Vita Vea is a very dangerous weapon.
On first thought, this man deserves to be a first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft. On second thought, I believe he should go inside the top 10, maybe even the top five.
We talked about Vea’s 4.8 40-yard dash, which is unheard of from an interior lineman. Vea can run, eat up double-teams. All the while, he still makes the tackle on a ball carrier who thinks the lane is clear. Go back to the video highlights of any game this season. As you do, whenever you see a quarterback trying to scramble, you’ll see big number 50 running after him. In fact, Vea actually makes the tackle before the linebackers can get over.
One great example that I can that truly shows how much opposing offenses fear Vita Vea comes from this year’s Colorado game. It happened on a fourth and one play towards the end of the game. Facing a punting situation, the Buffalo decided to go for it. To do so, they came out in a jumbo set with three tight ends. As soon as the ball was snapped, there were FOUR offensive linemen who had one job, block Vita Vea. I’ve watched a lot of football in my life, and I can say with 100% certainty that I’ve never seen that before. That’s how much of a scary, freak athlete is Vea is for opposing defenses.
On one hand, scouts like Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller question Vea’s ability to fit scheme. On the other hand, I believe that he is a plug-and-play type player in any kind of defensive front. Towards the end of the year, we saw some of Vea’s true pass rushing talents. Defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski decided to line him up on the edge to create mismatches in one-on-one scenarios. When that happened, Vea displayed tremendous handwork. Not surprisingly, he wreaked havoc in the backfield like he usually does.
We’ve seen him line up on the interior in a four-man front next to a true nose tackle Greg Gaines. That pairing has a great deal of success as well. On one hand, I think his best fit would be in a 4-3 scheme where he would have the opportunity to get more one on one opportunities when rushing the passer.
On the other hand, don’t get me wrong. I do believe Vea is athletic enough to play as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme too. My dream scenario for a team that is in the top-10 right now would be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just imagine a defensive interior of Vita Vea and Gerald McCoy, that’s almost unblockable.
If the draft were this weekend, I see a few teams inside of the top 10 that could really use Vea’s talents.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers– As I just stated, wouldn’t it be nice to pair Vea with Gerald McCoy? Also, we will definitely see improvement in run defense, which is currently ranked 23rd, and Vea would also be a help to the 31st ranked pass defense which is also last in sacks with only 17 this season.
Cleveland Browns– The Browns could definitely utilize Vea’s talents up front, and it would be very cool to have him learn from the same guy he worked with during his redshirt season at Washington, Danny Shelton. The two of them would create a very quick and powerful defensive line, and pairing that with Myles Garrett and Emmanuel Ogbah would make their pass rush a force to be reckoned with.
Arizona Cardinals- The Cardinals need to rebuild their defensive line, and Vea is a great piece to start with. The Cardinals lost Calais Campbell in free agency to the Jaguars, Frostee Rucker is 34 years old, and the Cardinals have gotten next to nothing from former first round pick Robert Nkemdiche in his first two seasons, so why not go with Vea to take some stress off of last year’s first round pick, Hasson Reddick?