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Raiders 2018 Draft Pick or Pass: DT Vita Vea

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Should the Silver and Black look to add one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft?

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NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Entering the off-season, Silver and Black Pride deemed defensive tackle as the Raiders second most prominent need. While nose tackle Justin Ellis was brought back on a three-year contract worth more than $15 million, the team was relatively quiet addressing the interior defensive line in free agency.

With the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, there should be plenty of talent available to improve Oakland’s defense. One of those prospects is Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.

Should the Raiders select the former Husky with their first round pick if he’s available, or would they be better off passing for a different player? The staff here at Silver and Black Pride weighs in.

Tyler Green (@TylerGreenSB)

At 6’4” and 347 lbs, Vita Vea is one of the most physically imposing players this draft has to offer. While he is a dominant nose tackle due to his size and strength, he can play just about every position on a defensive line. At the NFL Combine, Vea ran the 40-yard dash in 5.1 seconds which is absolutely ridiculous for a man his size.

That speed and athleticism show up on tape as the mammoth defensive tackle is constantly in the backfield despite drawing double and triple teams on every play. If Vea continues seeing multiple blockers in the NFL, it would prevent offenses from being able to double Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin.

The Silver and Black have lacked a dominant interior defender since Richard Seymour left the team in 2012. That could change if Reggie McKenzie and Jon Gruden make Vita Vea the pick at 10 overall.

Verdict: PICK

RDreamer (@RaiderDamus)

The Raiders have been without a dominant defensive tackle since the days of Richard Seymour. The lack of pressure up the middle makes life difficult for the strength of the Raiders, which is edge rusher. They can’t do their job as well with too much attention being paid to them. But there are a few really good defensive tackle prospects in this draft, and Vita Vea is certainly one of the best we’ve seen in recent years.

Vea is a true mammoth of a man, and easily takes on double and triple teams. He even beats them occasionally. He is as good a run-stopper as you’ll find in this draft and he certainly would solve one of the Raiders’ more glaring issues.

The Washington product doesn’t have many weaknesses in his game or in his body. My problem with Vea has nothing to do with him and more that I think both corner and linebacker are far more pressing issues for Oakland. If Denzel Ward and Roquan Smith are both off the board when the Raiders select, or if the Raiders were to trade down, Vea would be an attractive option. But with the way I see this draft going, the Raiders can do better.

Verdict: PASS

BD Williams (@BDWilliams18)

Vita Vea manned the defensive interior for the Huskies, earning PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year and the Morris Trophy after terrorizing offensive lines in the conference. Vea is a “safe pick” because he would bolster the Raiders trenches and provide that interior push to complement Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin on the edge. Boasting best-in-class strength at the point of attack, nobody pushed this guy around the last 2 years. Vea has a high floor as a prospect because at worst he’ll be a 2 down, immovable object against the run. But I’m sold on Vea’s upside after seeing him consistently stand up double and even triple teams without losing ground. Vea’s balance and flexibility are almost unheard of for a man of his size and I’m convinced he’ll be a 10 year starter in the NFL.

Verdict: PICK

Ryan Lipton (@Rytime98)

It can’t be harped on enough but Oakland needs to add another pass rusher to complement Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. And while a space-eater in the middle that can also rush the passer would be ideal, Vita Vea might be a little too risky of a pick at No. 10 overall.

Vea played in just 62 percent of his team’s defensive snaps in 2017, his first season over 50 percent at Washington, and was inconsistent forcing pressures despite playing a limited number of snaps. His athleticism, size and pass-rush skill provide him with an extremely high ceiling that makes him an enticing selection at No. 10 overall.

However, with so many other dominant prospects likely available and the questions surrounding Vea’s consistency, Oakland should pass.

Verdict: PASS

Levi Damien (@LeviDamien)

Those who would criticize Vea point to his lack of pass rush numbers. That’s fair. He had just 3.0 sacks last season 9.0 in three years as Washington. And when you consider the Raiders need interior pass rush, he may not be what they need.

First let’s address his numbers. You know how we talk about how Khalil Mack would have had better sack totals had he had help inside? Well, similar can be said of Vea who was routinely double and triple teamed because he was the greatest threat to opposing offenses on the Husky defensive line. And weighing in at 340 pounds, one could argue he was easily the most Husky of all of them.

Basically, without going on too long here, would you want Haloti Ngata if he were in this draft? I would. Can you guess how many sacks Ngata had his final year at Oregon? He had 3.0. He eats up blockers inside. He is versatile. He plays both DT and NT. So does Vea. Both are rare talents you don’t pass up.

Verdict: PICK


Should the Raiders draft Vita Vea?

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