Detroit Lions 2018 draft profile: Defensive Tackle Vita Vea
By Kellen Voss
In the never-ending lead up to the draft, we will be previewing a few draftees that could make an impact on the Detroit Lions. Today, we look at Vita Vea
The new wave is coming. The day Motor City fans have been waiting for more than a fortnight now has finally arrived, and Matt Patricia was officially hired by the Detroit Lions last week.
In his first press conference as the head coach, Patricia told Tim Twentyman of detroitlions.com that he would structure his future defensive scheme around the players at his disposal. He is of the common belief that as a coach, it is your job to “want to make sure you tailor what you do to the players you have, so that they can perform at a high level on the field.”
In other words, Patricia does not have a plan set in stone for his defense yet, because he is placing the players in higher priority than the schemes themselves. This is a great mindset to have for a defensive head coach, as plans like this have worked well for other head coaches, such as Pete Carroll, Doug Pederson and Patricia’s old boss Bill Belichick.
It would be smart for general manager Bob Quinn to fill this roster with as many young, quality, defensive players as he can this offseason, so that Patricia can start crafting another defensive masterpiece. And one key player to be used in said masterpiece could be Vita Vea, the larger-than-life defensive tackle from the University of Washington.
Vita Vea is one of the biggest linemen in this draft. Standing in at 6’4″ and nearly 350 pounds, he’s already got the size to eat up space and stuff the run at the professional level.
He was a force to be reckon with in the Pac 12 in his three years with the Huskies. In his tenure, he totaled 99 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and and 9.5 sacks, all very good stats for a Nose Tackle who’s main job is to clog up the A gap and get pressure up the middle of the line.
In his final year at Washington, his quality play got the recognition of the sports media all over the country. At the end of the year, he was named first team all-conference and was named an All-American by USA Today, SB Nation and Sports Illustrated.
Scouts are not only impressed with Vea’s measurables, they also love his ability to overpower guards, be a 2-gap defender and push centers into the middle of the run play.
He has drawn comparisons to the future hall-of-fame Lion, Defensive Tackle Haloti Ngata, as they are both about the same size, post amazing positional versatility, and do a great job of both stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback.
Vea already possesses the skills to make him a great defensive tackle at the NFL level. Just take a look at these clips. He plays look a bull in a china shop, and throws those 300 pound linemen around like they weigh nothing. He has great speed for size, and he can’t be double teamed due to his sheer size and relentless effort.
It seems that the only negative thing about Vea is that he may not be available by the time the Lions pick at #20. Draftwire predicted him to fall to the Lions, but most mock drafts have him going at some point in the teens to other teams that need linemen, like the Dallas Cowboys and the Miami Dolphins
It’s unclear yet whether Matt Patricia will run a 4-3 or a 3-4 in Detroit, as he never really addressed that question at his press conference. In his time with the Patriots, they would often switch among the two defenses mid-game.
This kind of quick change requires versatile linemen that can play nose tackle, defensive end and defensive tackle, which is something Vita Vea can do, as he played more than 100 snaps in each position in his time at Washington.
Next: NFL Mock Draft 2018 Full first round – Who’s the Detroit Lions top pick?
This defense is going to require a lot of work to get back to the top-5 level it was at in 2014. But adding a versatile giant like Vea to this defense can get this defense one step closer to that. And with Matt Patricia at the helm, Lions fans have reasons to look forward to watching this defense for years to come.