Brock Huard’s 2018 NFL Draft preview: Washington DT Vita Vea
• Position: DL
• Height/weight: 6-4, 347
• Class: Jr.
• Hometown: Milpitas, CA
Scouting report: As noted in his NFL.com draft profile, Vea has a rare combination of size, strength and speed off the line of scrimmage. Vea is among the most talented defensive players in the history of Washington’s football program. In 2017, Vea was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team, Second-Team All-America, and was the Morris Trophy Award-winner (given to the best lineman in the Pac-12). Vea finished his three-year career at UW with 99 combined tackles and 9.5 sacks.
Brock’s take: “I’ll answer it right away: I’m taking Vita Vea at 18. I think he is a cornerstone kind of guy. I think he plays in this league a long time. I think his talents are just incredibly unique. And unlike with many of these prospects, I think [Seattle fans] listening right now know Vita Vea inside and out. You’ve watched him grow and develop from a high school running back/D-lineman kind of quasi-weird unbelievable athlete into one of the most dominant forces in all of college football. There was great debate, obviously, with all that [Hercules] Mata’afa did at Washington State. But he was the Morris Trophy Award-winner. And there was no debate about that. Because you ask any offensive lineman in this league, and they did not want to block that guy. In fact, two guys didn’t want to block him; in the Apple Cup, one of the endearing images for any Husky fan are two Cougars trying to block the bull that is Vita Vea, and he’s pushing the pocket back right into the lap of Luke Falk, who would never ever get settled and Vita is a big reason why.
“How is he able to do that? Well, it helps when you’re nearly 6-5 and 347 pounds. It helps when you bench press 225 pounds 41 times at the combine with ease… it helps to dominate all of those things. It’s why Todd McShay has Vita [ranked] like I do: as a top-10 talent.
“I’m going to give you three last points on Vea, and why I take him at 18… one, there’s more [to come] in Vita Vea’s game. Number two, in this system he understands ball. This is not one of those systems that just lines up in a 4-3 and you play the spread every week. In the Pac-12 you’re going to play power football against Stanford, you are going to play the spread, you’ve played Alabama, you’ve played Penn State, and at every single turn the game has never been too big for him. And then lastly, and this is why you get drafted in the top-12, you just have a size, speed, and versatility component that’s truly unique. And that’s what I want to see in Seattle.”
How he’d fit: Defensive line remains one of Seattle’s biggest needs heading into the draft. The Seahawks signed ex-Vikings defensive tackles Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen; however, 33-year-old Johnson will play fewer snaps with the Seahawks than he did in Minnesota, and Stephen is coming off of a meniscus injury. Second-year player Naz Jones had a promising rookie campaign and is sure to build on that this year, but they could use some depth on the interior defensive line. While Vea is a good fit for Seattle, he’s unlikely to fall to them at No. 18 overall.