Leading up to the 2017 college football season, the CFB Film Room Scouting Dept. is putting together a summer scouting series. We’re focusing on the top draft-eligible prospects entering the 2017 season and will be reviewing their strengths and weaknesses from an NFL scouting perspective. Our latest report features Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.
The Washington Huskies burst into the national spotlight in 2016 by winning 12 games en route to a Pac-12 championship and a berth into the College Football Playoff. A large component of their team success was the development of their defense in the high-scoring Pac-12 Conference. The defensive line was able to rotate fresh bodies to create a push upfront, paving the way for the athletic linebackers and superb secondary to operate behind them.
One of key pieces returning for the 2017 campaign is Vita Vea. The junior Defensive Tackle has played in 25 games, starting five, and he looks to improve upon a season where he totaled 39 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. A full season of increased snaps should benefit the Huskies defensive tackle in terms of production, which should enable him to climb draft boards as the season wears on.
The next edition to the Summer Scouting Series, presented by CFB Film Room, looks at the strengths and weakness of fast-rising junior Vita Vea.
The first thing that pops out when watching film of Vea is the strength and power he possesses. He is able to utilize his power off the snap, primarily out of a “frog stance”, due to his flexibility and very good lower body power. Couple this with upper body strength, and he is a handful to anchor against.
Vita also shows good placement and timing of his hands to initiate his drive, and backs it up with good pad level. He consistently shows the ability to occupy a blocker with a single straight-arm, leaving his free arm ready to make a play on the ball carrier.
Perhaps Vea’s most impressive “feat” that will never show up in a box score are his contributions on the kickoff coverage team where at 6’5” and 340 pounds he is able to use speed and agility to line up blocks in space. This athleticism translates nicely across the defensive line where he can be utilized in multiple alignments, anywhere from “head-up” on the center to a stand-up 5-technique threatening the outside shoulder of the tackle.
Vea was a 260-lb Wildcat quarterback during his prep days, so he has always been able to blend size, speed and athleticism on the football field.
Against The Run
The combination of size, strength, and athleticism make Vita Vea a superb run defender. The standout defensive tackle uses his functional strength to maintain position at the point of attack while utilizing strong mental processing in order to read the play and react to the ball carrier, further showing his versatility as a one-gap or two-gap defender.
He displays competitive toughness when taking on double teams, and uses his size and strength to maintain leverage in a gap. However, Vea does struggle to show consistent effort while in pursuit, an area of emphasis that will need to be improved upon in 2017.
Against the Pass
Rushing the passer is the biggest area in need of improvement. While he can overpower a vast majority of his opponents, he needs to improve upon his pass rushing repertoire to win at the next level.
Vea has the athleticism to increase his arsenal, as well as the functional strength to incorporate a “push-pull” technique when the bull rush is not yielding results. He will be an absolute force if he can develop into an all-around defender along the interior defensive line.
Final Thoughts On Vita Vea
Among the most impressive feats in the history of defensive tackles lies the 2012 NFL Combine performance of Dontari Poe. The 6’4” 346-pound mountain of a man put together a series of individual performances that has since become the benchmark for interior defensive linemen, highlighted by a 4.98 40-yard dash and 44 reps on the bench press. Poe went on to be drafted 11th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2012 NFL Draft.
Vea will draw similar comparisons to that of Poe leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft, and for good reason. He boasts similar size and strength and will likely threaten the 5.0 second threshold in the 40 yard dash at the Combine. Furthermore, Vita possesses better agility and will be a more versatile player, making him a fit for any scheme.