Vita Vea is the popular choice for the Dolphins, who is he?
By Brian Miller
Many fans are not going to like hearing this but Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea is the popular choice for the Miami Dolphins at pick 11.
While quarterback remains the headline discussion of what the Dolphins will do with their 11th overall pick, it is now Vita Vea a few days out that has become the top choice for the Dolphins.
With the departure of Ndamukong Suh it is not surprising that the top defensive tackle in this years draft is gaining more momentum heading towards the draft. Many mock drafts have Vea the Dolphins choice at 11 and the latest mock draft from Peter King has Vea going to the Dolphins at 11.
So who is Vita Vea? He could be exactly what the Dolphins need or he could be another in a long line of drafted players who have potential but not enough to make a big difference.
According to one draft pick analysis, Vea has a lot of upside but he also has some issues that need to be worked out and some of those are concerning.
NFL.com says that Vea has to watch his weight if he is going to be more than a two down lineman. The keyword here is two-down. Miami needs more than a guy who can play two downs even if it is in a rotation. At pick 11 the Dolphins need to find a play maker that will be on the field all of the time.
Vea is a junior who still has a lot of room to grow but while his size and athleticism is great he still needs to be pushed to work harder at times. The above mentioned analysis says that he could work in a rotation and become a “good NFL starter for years”. At pick 11 he should be far better than “good”.
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His strengths however are noteworthy. As mentioned his athleticism is very good and in college he worked off the edge at times as well. Here is what NFL.com had to say about him in their combine profile.
- NFL-worthy size with thick hips and powerful upper body
- Can be very intimidating at point of attack
- Able to overpower lighter guards and usually pummels centers when isolated on them
- Has power to press blockers off of his frame and the hip rotation and flexibility to dislodge them
- Also utilizes booming hump move that can topple blockers off their base as a pass rush counter
- Able to grow roots and own his grass when pad level is right
- Two-gap defender
- Can punch, lock out, and locate the ball
- Above average pursuit quickness for a big man
- Able to shed blockers and range to down the line of scrimmage to squeeze running lanes and make tackles
- Violent hands can clear hands from his frame or soften the blocker’s edge when he’s rushing the passer
- Has serious bull-rush ability once he gains momentum early in rush
- Still very raw with much more talent to unlock
What is a bigger question is whether or not the Dolphins have the coaches that can develop him properly or will he be another case of a young player asked to follow what the veterans are doing? Last year the Dolphins had a lot of hopes in a similar player, Charles Harris but his rookie season was relatively uneventful.
Do his weaknesses outweigh his strengths? Here is what they had to say about that as well.
- Loses his feet and hits the turf too often
- Base and footwork can be compromised when he gets too far out over his toes
- Has a tendency to allow pad level to rise too much during rep
- Lacks feel for double teams and blocking schemes
- Second block catches him off-guard and he often does not have hands in position to work against doubles
- Initial get-off is below average
- Heavy-stepper as a pass rusher
- Doesn’t have flexibility or foot quickness to win around the edge as pass rusher
- Too quick to default to brute force over technique
- Teams may view him as run down player only
Again, coaching will be the key for Vea. If the Dolphins do see him as the pick at 11 then they need to be ready to address the issues that they can. There is no doubting Vea has talent and is coachable but is the right pick at 11? Many fans don’t think so. Here are some social media thoughts on Vea from NFL and Dolphins fans.
Vea is not a flashy player. He isn’t the “IT” pick that many fans want and some question whether or not defensive tackle is the bigger need. Another question is whether or not Vea will help the Dolphins win games. Is he a better prospect for the Dolphins than say Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick? Maybe not but at least for now, he is the guy that is gaining the most talk outside of quarterback.