One of the Raiders top needs is help on the interior defensive line. The Raiders have two Pro Bowl caliber edge rushers in Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, but have lacked a star defensive tackle since Richard Seymour. That could change in 2017 as there will be talented defensive tackles available when the Raiders pick 10th overall, headed by Washington’s Vita Vea who said in his press conference Saturday that he met with Raiders DL coach Mike Trgovac at the NFL Scouting Combine.
At 6’4”, 347 lbs, Vea is easily the largest defensive lineman in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has a legitimate chance to run a sub-5-second 40-yard dash as he is a freak of nature. He joked here about challenging John Ross and his 4.22 40-yard-dash last year. Though Ross didn’t win the island offered up by Adidas because he didn’t wear their shoes when he did it.
Washington DT Vita Vea when asked about his 40-yard dash time: “You can tell John Ross and Addidas that I’m coming for that island.”— Trevor Sikkema (@TampaBayTre) March 3, 2018
While Vea’s 2017 stats were pedestrian (44 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks), Vea was a destructive force for the Huskies and was nominated as the PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
“His stats don’t tell the story of how destructive he is,” says Texas assistant Clay McGuire, who coached Washington State’s offensive line for the past six seasons and faced Vea three times.
McGuire faced both Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy in college, but Vea’s ability to play anywhere on the defensive line made him McGuire’s toughest test. “It was the first time ever that we’ve ever had to adjust a protection during a game for one player,” McGuire said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. It’s no wonder the Raiders made a point to meet with him.
His rare combination of size, speed, and power makes him a nightmare for offensive coordinators. “It gets kind weird when you look at that film and you see a 340-pounder running with a 200-pound linebacker and we get to the ball at the same time,” said Washington linebacker Keishawn Bierria. “Something’s wrong here.”
Adding the star defensive lineman to the Silver and Black would immediately make their defensive line a force to be reckoned with. Offensive Coordinators would have to choose between double-teaming Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, or Vea. This would free up the rest of the pass rushers as well as the Raiders linebackers.