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2018 NFL Draft Profile: Vita Vea could be the biggest piece in the Lions’ new-look defense

Kent Lee Platte breaks down one of the most popular college players among Lions fans.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Vita Vea

DL | 4JR | Washington

Date of Birth: 2/5/1995 | Height: 6041 | Weight: 344

Projection: 1st Round | Player Comparison: Justin Smith

Scout Hub Featured Background:

Jesse Fritsch

California native. Four-star recruit according to ESPN. Anthropology major. Redshirt. Played in 13 games as a freshman. Started 5 of 14 games as a sophomore. Didn’t qualify out of high school and had to take a year off with online classes to be eligible to play at Washington. Declared for the 2018 NFL Draft with remaining eligibility.

Stats:

2015 (13 games): 17 tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 1 forced fumble
2016 (14 games): 39 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, 5.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble
2017 (12 games): 43 tackles, 5.5 TFLs, 3.5 sacks

Positives:

Overpowers lineman with ease, he’s a handful to move. Footspeed for his size is incredible and you see him chasing down backs like a man 50 pounds lighter. Is not easy to cut and cleanly beats most attempts to take him down low. Double teams don’t give him much trouble against the run, even with two blockers he’s rarely moved off the line of scrimmage. Plays in multiple positions on the DL, most often as an end in 3-4 fronts. Has several pass rush moves, but they’re not all as effective as when he uses his raw power and athleticism. Consistently draws and requires double teams. Rare occasions when he is blocked one-on-one generally do not end very well for the opposing offense.

Negatives:

Timing the snap is not a big strength of Vea and he is rarely the first lineman to move and occasionally leaps offsides. Motor can run hot and cold. Takes up a lot of attention, doesn’t always track the ball carrier as well you would like. Change of direction is not very good, an area his overall athleticism suffers. Can get gassed on long drives.

Outlook:

Though he is often projected as a nose tackle in the NFL, that isn’t the position he played the best for Washington. Projecting better as a 3-4 defensive end where he can use his explosiveness and power to overwhelm tackles and guards is likely his best landing spot. He’ll start from day one in the NFL, though it may take a couple of years for him to get his conditioning to a sustainable level. Though he showed several moves in college, Vea makes his living with a brutal bull rush, taking advantage of his power advantage.

Notes:

Took down a runner with one arm against Fresno State, just grabbed his pads as the runner ran past and yanked him back to the ground. Tossed an Oregon OL aside like nothing, then beat a double team to take down the runner in the red zone. Barreled over the Oregon right tackle like he was nothing on a run that went the other direction. Stanford is a good example of Vea getting worn down on long offensive drives. Plows right over his man in the third quarter against Stanford, showcasing how difficult to block manned up he is.

All Player links:

Game Tape:

Fresno State 2017, Penn State 2017, Oregon 2017, Stanford 2017, Utah 2017, Washington State 2017, Arizona State 2017, UCLA 2017, Rutgers 2017, Cal 2016, Oregon 2016, Rutgers 2016, USC 2016, Stanford 2016, Arizona State 2016, Arizona 2016, Idaho 2016

Other Links:

Draft Report-Anthony Licciardi Scouting Report, Team-Team Page, Draft Report-Jesse Fritsch Report