Sitting at number 7 in the 2018 NFL Draft it was evident that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were willing to bide their time and punt back to a few slots later to get the guy they wanted. That guy is monster defensive tackle Vita Vea (full name Tevita Tuliʻakiʻono Tuipulotu Mosese Vaʻhae Fehoko Faletau Vea) from the University of Washington. While many so-called experts panned the move, saying there were more pressing defensive needs and the prospects available to fill those holes, there is something to be said about a team amassing a cadre of new picks while also going out to get someone they’ve had targeted for a good long while.
If you look at the stats that Vea put up while playing for the Washington Huskies, it is hard to be pessimistic at what you see. His 41 bench press reps at the NFL Combine was good for the second highest by a prospect this year, and the 18th highest total of all-time. To put it another way: the guy has freakish strength abilities. Still, some scouts question if the physical dominance will translate into NFL production as the defensive tackle position seems to be growing less important to a lot of NFL front offices. However, consider that the Bucs finished dead last in sacks last season and then factor in the amount of attention that Vea will demand from opposing offensive lines. In other words, it seems that Vea may be an asset in the sense that he will take away a lot of man power from other teams offensive lines, freeing up the Bucs’ edge rushers to panic the opposing Quarterback into making bad throws.
Hypothetically could the Bucs have gone with a defensive back or a safety? Sure, I suppose so. But right now, it’s far too early for anyone (even “experts) to pan the pick as a bad choice. If Vea does what he was brought into do: act like a dam against other teams running games and free up outside rushers, then this is the exact type of pick Tampa will need to continue making in order to rebound from a lackluster 5-11 season.