Now that the 2018 NFL Draft is complete, dynasty fantasy football decisions are on the line. As a former high school football coach and educator by trade, one of my passions include providing film-based reviews on rookie prospects and focusing on their strengths and weakness which may assist other fantasy football enthusiasts in their evaluations.
After reviewing five of his games, here’s my scouting report on former Washington Husky and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea:
[Note: Most of these game videos are available via YouTube and Draft Breakdown]
DT Vita Vea, Tampa Bay Buccaneer
6’5” | 340 lbs.
Washington State, Penn State, Rutgers, Stanford
Being a huge man, Vita Vea tends to overextend himself and lose balance quite often which allows offensive linemen to get into his body and redirect him, significantly reducing his impact as a disruptor. Now, this tends to happen the longer he is on the field. If Tampa Bay can keep the defender’s playing time to 60% of the snaps, Vea might be much more effective as a result of being fresh. Another bad habit Vea has is he comes off the snap of the pigskin high. His huge legs generate most of his power and the taller he gets, the more easily the defensive tackle can be cut blocked or simply rerouted away from the play. While Tampa Bay’s first-rounder played both nose guard and defensive tackle at Washington, Vea had some issues defending against double teams. I do not think he will be able to handle both an NFL-caliber center and guard on a regular basis. Thankfully, Vea should be the under tackle for the Buccaneers.
Despite having a few pass rushing techniques, the Buccaneer defender rarely uses a swim move or a dip to maneuver around offensive linemen. He prefers to use his raw power (aka the bull rush) which makes him easier to strategize against, and if his blocker can handle his power, Vea doesn’t combat it well. I’m not sure if it is stubbornness or laziness. Hopefully, the Tampa Bay defensive staff will increase his effectiveness and confidence with other pass rushing moves. Like most men his size, Vea’s motor runs very hot and cold. There were several games where he came out dominating for a quarter or half and then lost momentum. In an NFL rotation, the defensive tackle should be fresher and more impactful when given time to rest his huge body. There is a little concern about his age; turning 23 in February while only being a junior.
Vea’s athleticism for a man his size is impressive. I watched some of his high school tape when he played running back (had almost 600 yards his senior year with 11 touchdowns). He has very light, nimble feet while moving up and down the line with ease. Why is that so important? Well, this allows Vea the chance to chase down running plays and perhaps buy more time for him to get to the quarterback. When the defensive tackle stays balanced, he can lay some big haymakers that knock offensive linemen back and ultimately allow him to maneuver around them and find the pigskin. Vea can be quite overpowering if he gets his hands on the blocker first. I think he is better against the run than the pass, but the Buccaneer defensive tackle has room to improve.
Also, it’s good to keep in mind that the rookie will not be the first defensive lineman on the offense’s mind. Playing along with Gerald McCoy, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Vinnie Curry might be too much for the most blockers to scheme against, leaving the unproven rookie to find some matchups to exploit.
Vea is a powerful, athletic defender who has his warts. He gets too high out of his stance, tires himself out too quickly, and has issues defending against double teams. If the Tampa Bay coaching staff can keep him fresh and refine a few of his pass rushing techniques, Vea could dominate the NFL and fantasy leagues for years. However, in most IDP leagues, defensive tackles are rarely impactful unless they increase their sack totals or are required to start apart from defensive ends since defensive tackles have lesser opportunities to make plays than what linebackers and strong safeties face. As far as rookie DTs, I would have Vea slightly above Maurice Hurst in DT-required leagues.
Thanks for reading. I will continue to generate and discuss 2018 rookie scouting reports with you so be sure to keep an eye on DTC for all of the new content. You can also follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley.