One prospect who was brought in for a pre-draft visit/workout and may interest the Denver Broncos in the first-round of the 2018 NFL draft is former Washington defensive tackle, Vita Vea. He is a 6’4”, 347lb defensive tackle who is considered one of the top defensive lineman in the draft. Vea is ranked as the top defensive tackle in the 2018 NFL Draft according to NFLDraftScout.com and is considered the 10th best overall player in the entire draft.
Vea played three seasons at Washington and put up some impressive numbers. During his three-year career, he totaled 99 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, 9.5 sacks, 5 pass deflections and 2 forced fumbles. This past season, Vea totaled 43 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, and 4 pass deflections.
The honors and awards Vea earned throughout his career include 2017 Second-Team All-America (USA Today, Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and TheAthletic.com), 2017 All-Pac-12 First Team, 2017 Morris Trophy Winner, 2017 Pat Tillman Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, 2017 Academic All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention, 2017 Polynesian Player of the Year Finalist, 2017 Bednarik Award Semifinalist, 2017 Associated Press Preseason All-America Second Team, 2016 Second-Team All-Pac-12, and 2016 Academic All-Pac-12 Second Team.
Vita Vea, Junior, Washington
Height: 6’4” Weight: 347lbs 40 time: 5.1 seconds
Arm Length: 32 5/8” Hands: 10”
Bench Press: 41 reps
- A massive human being
- Thick build
- Top end strength(41 bench reps)
- Excellent core strength
- Excellent movement skills for someone that big
- Has a good bull rush
- Tosses around smaller offensive lineman like a rag doll
- Has surprisingly quick pursuit quickness for someone that big
- Has the strength to beat double teams
- Eats up ball carriers when he gets near them
- Offers some pass rush ability, but not much
- Has experience playing the nose and defensive end
- Untapped potential/high upside
- Not the most explosive off the snap
- Won’t be a big-time pass rusher
- Untapped potential and will need a good coach for him to reach his high upside
- Likely only a two-down player
- Tends to wear down near the end of the game
NFL Network draft expert Daniel Jeremiah on Vita Vea who he has ranked as his 11th best player in the draft.
Vea is a massive defensive tackle prospect with remarkable power, quickness and agility. He’s a dominant run defender, routinely resetting the line of scrimmage against both individual blockers and double-teams. He’s quick to shoot his hands, latch on and toss opposing blockers before quickly pursuing the football. He has rare lateral range for a 340-pound defender. He also flashes the ability to use his quickness to split gaps and create negative plays. As a pass rusher, he has a nasty slap/swim move. He can roll his hips and generate pocket push with his power. There are times where he plays too tall and consequently gets controlled. That can be improved. Overall, Vea is a more athletic version of Haloti Ngata and should quickly emerge as a Pro Bowl player.
NFL Draft Scout’s Dane Brugler on Vea from his draft guide.
SUMMARY: A two-year starter at Washington, Vea played as the nose and over the tackle in the Huskies’ hybrid three-man base, usually lining up over gaps. He won the 2017 Pac-12’s Morris Trophy as the conference’s top defensive lineman, which is a unique award because it is voted on by Pac-12 offensive linemen. Vea has freaky physical traits with the unique ability to anchor/split double-teams on one play and then chase ballcarriers to the sideline on the next. While his athleticism for a 340-pounder is remarkable, he is a difficult evaluation because the effort and technique are inconsistent and he needs to commit himself to improving his discipline to maximize his tools. Overall, Vea relies on brute strength over technical savvy, which won’t be as effective in the NFL as it was in college, but his rare combination of athleticism, power and size is why he is deserving of first round consideration.
Vita Vea’s spider graph:
Does Vita Vea make sense for the Broncos in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft?
Only if the Broncos trade back.
Here’s the thing. I love Vea, but not in the top 15. He’s an excellent high upside prospect but even at his best, he is a two-down player. He offers very little in the pass rush department but has the chance to be a top-notch run defender. Is that worth a top 15 pick? Not really, at least in my opinion.
With all that said, I wouldn’t be upset if the Broncos were able to get him in a trade back. We just need to accept that he is only a two-down player.
The Broncos have Domata Peko already at nose tackle, but he is entering the final year of his deal and isn’t getting any younger. Vea could serve as his potential replacement while providing depth behind Peko and at defensive end. Adam Gotsis’s legal issues could potentially open up some snaps at defensive end. Vea has the athleticism and strength to be a menace there.