Vita Vea joins a weak Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense in 2018. How can he cause a ripple effect for the other talented players around him?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain as the most underachieving team in the NFL. They are a squad that is laden with talent but has blundered in terms of success. A number of factors contribute, but it is clear they have the necessary pieces to win on Sundays.
On paper, Vita Vea was not the most pressing need for this Bucs defensive unit. On second glance, you notice how abysmal this team was at stopping the run last year. Finishing 23rd in rush yards allowed, Tampa Bay gave up 117.5 yards per game on the ground. They were even worse in pass defense after ending the year dead last.
But how important is Vita Vea to future defensive success?
Vea is an athletic freak, which we saw on display at the combine. This man tossed 225 pounds of weight on the bench for an incredible 41 reps like it was nothing. At a thick 347 pounds, Vea also ran a 5.1-second 40-yard dash.
His speed is truly reflective of how fluid of a player Vea can be. While his sheer strength helps him manhandle weaker interior lineman, he can also beat opponents with footwork and quickness. We’ve seen this on display from his pass rush disruption skills.
His most dominant trait appears to be his run stuffing dominance. In 2017 alone, Vea stuffed 25 runs per Pro Football Focus.
With the Bucs, Vea can plug right in and impact the performance of those around him. While swallowing up the attention of other interior linemen, he allows Gerald McCoy to run free. Behind him, Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David can make better reads and track the ball without opposing lineman chasing after them.
While their pass rush and secondary are filled with washed up names, Vea is good enough to spark their production as well.
Realistically, Vea might not rack up copious amounts of tackles and jack dropping sack totals. However, his run stuff productivity will be top five among all rookie interior defensive lineman.
A productive 2018 for Vea would be 30 tackles and over 4 sacks. While Vea has the tools to be a stat sheet stuffer, he does not need to fill that role right away. Buccaneers fans should be more than content if he does what any meaty defensive lineman should do: take away the attention of blockers for his teammates.