Vita Vea is a viable option for Miami at pick 11

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Defensive lineman Vita Vea
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 17: Defensive lineman Vita Vea /

The Dolphins parting ways with Ndamukong Suh left a major void at defensive tackle. They could go a long way in filling that void by drafting Vita Vea with their first round selection.

Despite the fact that Ndamukong Suh was due a whopping $26 million from the Miami Dolphins this season, it surprised most when the team decided to part ways with, arguably, the best defensive tackle in the game. The surprise mostly coming from the fact that Miami is still on the hook for most of that salary because of past restructuring, but the Dolphins are in the process of a “culture change” that they didn’t see Suh being a part of.

In last year’s draft, the Dolphins selected two defensive tackles on Day 3, Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor. Both of whom made considerable strides, particularly Godchaux, in their rookie seasons. At the time, it seemed as though both players were drafted as potential replacements for Jordan Phillips. A former second round pick, Phillips has been criticized taking off plays, and not putting in the work ethic that it takes at this level, despite having all the tools to be a dominant force on the interior.

Taylor still has some things he needs to work on while Godchaux looks to take the next step in a pivotal role. Phillips is in a contract season, which indicates that he may have a breakout season in 2018. Even if Phillips does have a phenomenal season, however, I think this will be his last in South Florida. Lack of energy was his biggest criticism coming out of college, and that has not changed to this point of his career. I can’t see Miami giving him a long-term deal based off one good season.

That is why the Dolphins could look to address defensive tackle in the draft right out the gate with their first selection. Most fans, and some within the organization, want the Dolphins to take a quarterback early in the draft. However, the likelihood that one of the top four falls to them at 11 is slim, and Miami appears to only have eyes for Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen.

There is the chance that the Dolphins could move up in the draft to take their quarterback, but it’s going to cost a lot if they do. We may very well see four quarterbacks selected within the first five selections. If Miami is thinking of climbing that high it will cost them a ton of high quality draft picks. Take a look at what the Jets gave up to the Colts just to move up three spots. The asking price will likely be too high for the Dolphins to pull the trigger.

The good news for Miami picking at 11 is that they are guaranteed a really good player. With this pick just outside the top 10, Miami should go with the best player available. Depending on how the first 10 picks go, there’s a good chance that player could be Vita Vea from the University of Washington. PhinPhanatic’s own Brian Miller has the Dolphins taking Vea in his latest picks 1-11 mock draft.

Miller argues that while the Dolphins have more needy positions than defensive tackle like linebacker and tight end, there’s a likelihood that the linebackers Miami likes may be off the board by the time they select. At pick 11, it’s still too early to draft a tight end, which Miami will probably look for in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Should the draft board fall similar to what Miller projects, Vea would appear to be the best player available, and a solid addition for Miami.

Simply put, Vea is a monster. His 6’4″, near 350 lb. frame, will wreak havoc for opponents at the next level. He also has decent speed for his size – running a 5.1 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Vea even lined up as an edge rusher some in 2016 as a result of his quick feet. It’s hard to believe he weighs near 350 when you see how fast he moves on tape.

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Like most rookies entering the league, Vea is raw in some categories, and will need to work on some of the issues that he has. While he is an exceptional run stopper, he needs to progress in becoming a better pass rusher. The other defensive lineman that Miami could take with the 11th pick, Da’Ron Payne, is arguably better than Vea in that area at this time.

While Vea is near dominant when one-on-one, he tends to give ground when double teamed. Like most teams, Miami may view Vea simply as a run defender until he can improve on his techniques. The good news though is that most of Vea’s concerns can be easily fixable, and once he does, he may become one of the more dominating forces in the league.

Defensive tackle may not be Miami’s first option, but projecting how the draft plays out, it could become their best option. Vea and Payne are likely atop Miami’s draft board of defensive tackles, with Taven Bryan of Florida just below them. After that, the talent begins to dwindle. The Dolphins don’t need to be desperate for a DT, but they can’t ignore it either.

Along with various other positions, Miami should address it early in the draft so they’re not missing out. It would go a long way for the Dolphins if they could find a trade partner to trade down, and pick up some additional picks. Defensive tackle, along with linebacker, tight end, and quarterback, are positions that Miami is going to want to clean up quickly come this draft.