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Vita Vea – Defensive Tackle

School: University of Washington

Class: Redshirt Junior

Height: 6’4″

Weight (listed): 344

Vita Vea NFL Draft Profile

There is one word to truly describe Vita Vea and his size and athleticism along the defensive line: FREAK. Arguably the best defensive tackle in this class, his power, and speed at almost 350 pounds is unmatched.

The numbers speak for themselves for the Pac-12 defensive player of the year, who racked up 43 total tackles with 5.5 for loss and 3.5 sacks this season. Vea also had 4 passes defended and wreaked havoc on anyone in the opposing backfield.

Vea is a moldable defensive tackle project that could potentially fit well in any system. Washington, who usually runs a 3-4 defense, found a way for Vea to produce at every position. Vea took at least 100 snaps at every position along the defensive line and found a way to make an impact at all of them.

Now, let’s take a look at what makes Vita Vea a top-tier prospect in this year’s draft.

Upside

Pure Athleticism

FREAK. At 6’4″ and 344 pounds, anyone you talk to inside Washington football will tell you the same thing. Vita Vea is going to run a 4.8 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Combining that speed with the power that he can drive from behind and it makes his bull rush a force to be reckoned with from the second the ball is snapped.

One thing that is consistently seen in Vea’s tape, especially in the Fiesta Bowl against Penn State, is his ability to shift the defensive line. Penn State consistently slid their protection to Vea, which creates opportunities for other defenders. Teams also consistently double and even triple teamed Vea. I even found a 4th down play when Washington visited Colorado this season where Vea was quadruple teamed.

Three Down Availability

Vea is the ideal DT prospect, who can make an impact in the passing game and against the run. According to Pro Football Focus, Vea garnered 42 total pressures this season. From a defensive tackle spot, that’s incredible production.

Having a guy like Vea, who can create that pressure can make a bad defense good and a good defense great. He’s still scratching the surface of his potential as a pass rusher too, as he’s still sort of developing his signature move. It’s a sort of slap and rip type of move. It’s slow when it happens, but Vea is so big and strong that it can still overpower defenders when they see it coming.

Downside

Developmental Project

While Vea had a tremendous impact at the college level, he is still a bit of a diamond in the rough. He plays with his pad level far too high sometimes and still doesn’t completely know what to do with his feet.

Vea was a running back for the majority of his time in high school and is still learning the position. Sitting behind Danny Shelton really helped his development early in his career, and he’s still growing as a player.

We see him lose his feet too often and a lot of his QB hurries could have turned into sacks. This comes partly from him being slow off the ball, and partly from him not being flexible enough to complete the play.

Scheme Fit

Will he fit best in a 3-4 or a 4-3? His mobility seems to fit best in a 4-3 since he is somewhat stiff. But at the same time, he’s big enough to fit as a nose tackle in a 3-4 front. He proved in college he can play with an odd or an even front, but the question will be what works better?

Overview

Vea is an incredible defensive tackle prospect, with elite size and speed that every NFL team will be drooling over by the Combine. With the right scheme and coaching, he could very easily be a Pro Bowl and All-Pro caliber player.

NFL Player Comparison

Danny Shelton

Teams With Need At Defensive Tackle

Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Washington Redskins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projection

Los Angeles Chargers

Sports Al Dente 2019

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