Washington football has sent out some high draft picks over the last few seasons, and the 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft is living up to the hype
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked Washington football’s Vita Vea 12th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, a lot of people called it a reach because you don’t typically see defensive tackles drafted that high. The Bucs also passed up on hometown hero Derwin James, who was a five-star recruit from Auburndale, Florida and attended Florida State.
The Bucs had a lot of glaring needs in their defense, especially the secondary, in 2018, which didn’t help justify drafting Vea over James, and the fact that James was named to the All-Pro First Team as a rookie while Vea struggled with a calf injury for the first part of the season. He came on towards the end of the year, and has really come into his own during his second season in Tampa.
The sack numbers aren’t there like they were in college for Vea, he’s only been credited with half a sack this season, but he’s already got seven quarterback hits, compared to four in his rookie season. He’s also consistently creating pressure and wreaking havoc in the backfield on almost every passing down. And when he isn’t, he’s drawing double teams and creating one on one matchups that his teammates like Shaquil Barrett, who’s leading the NFL with 10.5 sacks, can take advantage of. I said before the draft that Tampa was a great fit for Vea because of their scheme, and the ability for Vea to play next to Gerald McCoy.
Well… swap out McCoy for Ndamukong Suh as the Bucs did and I was 100% right, as Vea is now one of the premier players on the best run defense in the NFL. He’s doing exactly what he did at Washington, showing off incredibly rare athleticism from a 350-pound defensive tackle and wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Some around the NFL are saying that he’s still showing flashes, but when you’re able to pick a center up and walk him back seven yards into the quarterback, that’s more than just a flash, and I feel bad for the poor offensive linemen that are going to have to deal with him for years to come.