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Top draft prospect Vita Vea draws comparisons to Haloti Ngata: Should Raiders be interested?

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A look at what Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea could bring to the Oakland Raiders if picked.

Oregon State v Washington Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Head coach Jon Gruden returns home to a well stocked cupboard in Oakland. The offense is fully loaded behind quarterback Derek Carr. The defense has some talent led by 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. They could look to add to it with a pick in the top-10 of the 2018 NFL Draft.

In the top 10, you have a chance to get an immediate game-changer. You may even get a generational talent that can change your team’s fortunes for years to come. Right now, there’s a case that Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea could be that guy and just might be available for the Raiders at No. 9 or 10 overall.

He reminds many of former Baltimore Ravens and current Detroit Lions defensive lineman Haloti Ngata — a 5-time Pro Bowler and 2-time All Pro.

It all starts with size. They are both around 6’4”, 340 pounds. Ngata was very fast for his size, running a 5.18 40 at the combine. Vea might be even faster as the former high school running back expects to run in the 4.8s. That combination of size, speed, power and agility make it possible for them to line up anywhere on the defensive line.

As a rookie in 2006 with the Ravens, Ngata played 364 snaps at DT, 231 at defensive end and 110 at nose tackle, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2017 Vea played 308 snaps at DT, 116 at NT and 108 at DE. Just like Ngata, Vea was effective at all three spots. Both of them were made to play on defenses that use multiple fronts.

Ngata and Vea were elite run-defenders in their final years of college. That size and strength make it difficult for one man to move off him off the line of scrimmage. They both also have the power to quickly toss opposing offensive linemen aside to make a tackle.

As a rookie, Ngata’s 33 run stops ranked No. 2 among NFL 3-4 DE’s and his run-stop percentage of 9.6 ranked him No. 9. Vea’s 25 run stops in 2017 and run-stop percentage of 12.0 ranks No. 4 and his 91.6 run-defense grade ranks No. 2 among all FBS defensive tackle draft prospects.

Ngata and Vea were both viewed as capable of generating pass-rush production from different spots along the defensive line as prospects too. They both won in college with a devastating bull-rush to collapse the pocket. They both also used that strong bull-rush to set up other moves when they thought their opponents were prepared for it.

In his rookie season, Ngata contributed 3.0 sacks, seven QB hits and 12 hurries on his 389 pass-rush snaps according to Pro Football Focus. This past season, Vea had 3.0 sacks, eight QB hits and 28 hurries on his 273 pass-rush snaps and his pass-rushing productivity rating of 11.0 to rank No. 3 among all FBS defensive tackle draft prospects.

If you’re an NFL fan, you already know how Ngata has taken double and triple-teams over his career. Vea was so impossible to block one-on-one at Washington, he was often triple-teamed. I don’t just mean the guard and tackle with the running back chipping, either. There were times that the center, guard, and tackle where blocking him.

Ngata obviously proved himself as a dominant defensive lineman in the 2000 decade. Vea has yet to get started in the NFL but his college tape shows he can get there too. He is just scratching the surface, only needing to polish his technique with his hands and to play a little lower. And if he runs in the 4.8s at the combine, he’s ahead of Ngata as far as athletic gifts go.

If Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther gets his wish and middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman stays, Vea could add years to his career while improving the run defense. And Khalil Mack can use a guy who can collapse the pocket while rushing the passer. That’s what Ngata did for Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs while in Baltimore.

Vea’s size and speed combination has also drawn comparisons to former Kansas City Chiefs defensive lineman Dontari Poe but Vea is much better. As Mike Mayock said Monday over conference call.

“He is a dancing bear,” Mayock said of Vea. “He’s a freak. He’s 340 pounds, and everybody says he’s going to run a sub 5.40. The last defensive lineman to do that was Dontari Poe, and I think he went at No. 11. And Vea is a better player than Poe was coming out of college, more advanced. He’s a plug-and-play nose tackle in any scheme. If he runs 4.85 or 4.9 at 342 pounds, to me that’s more impressive than watching John Ross run a 4.22. Seriously.”

How would that sound for the Raiders?

Poll

Would you want the Raiders to take Vita Vea with their top pick?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Yes, take him if he’s there
    (1646 votes)
  • 20%
    I like him, but prefer someone else (specify in comments)
    (426 votes)
  • 2%
    No, he’s not what the Raiders need.
    (57 votes)
2129 votes total Vote Now