INDIANAPOLIS — Ndamukong Suh is gone, and suddenly, defensive tackle becomes a position of need for the Miami Dolphins.
Jordan Phillips and Davon Godchaux are quality player but they won’t be able to absorb Suh’s incredible snap count on their own.
And so now, suddenly, Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea must be considered with the 11th overall pick. And if that happens, it will not be a terrible thing for the Dolphins, but a terrible thing for AFC East offenses.
“I feel really happy about my power,” Vea said at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Vea, 6-foot-4, 347 pounds, is soft-spoken and polite off the field. But on the field — he’s a monster.
“Vea is a massive defensive tackle prospect with remarkable power, quickness and agility,” Daniel Jeremiah wrote for NFL.com. “Overall, Vea is a more athletic version of Haloti Ngata and should quickly emerge as a Pro Bowl player.”
Vea should continue the great tradition of Polynesian linemen in the NFL. He should also continue the great tradition of Washington interior defensive linemen, such as Danny Shelton, who a former first-rounder recently acquired by the New England Patriots.
“I was a groomsman in Danny’s wedding this past weekend,” Vea said in Indianapolis.
ESPN’s Todd McShay notes Vea is more than a space-eater.
“He has the ability to split double-teams and wreak havoc in the backfield,” McShay wrote for ESPN.com.
Even with Suh, Miami has struggled against the run for most of the last two seasons. Vea would help ease that burden.
Vea has violent hands, the strength to toss aside offensive linemen and the quickness needed to create interior pressure against, say, Tom Brady.
“I watch the best,” Vea said. “You study film. But two players I can really say I watched the most film on growing up was Reggie White and Justin Smith from the 49ers.”
Vea should be drafted in the range of Miami’s pick, 11th overall.
Jeremiah has Vea as the 9th-best player in the draft and McShay has him ranked 10th.
According to a scouting report by Lance Zierlein on NFL.com, one knock on Vea is occasional lack of consistency.
“Vea’s tape can frustrating because he flashes star potential one series and then looks average the next,” Zierlein wrote. “With that said, he’s still very raw and should be judged by his ability rather than just his results as he should unlock his potential with more coaching.”
Zierlein compared Vea to Shelton.
One thing that makes Vea unique is his athleticism. Vea actually played some quarterback and running back in school.
“I think there’s still highlights of me running the ball in the backfield,” Vea said. “I had a little experience with that. I tried to think like I was L.T., LaDanian Tomlinson, back in the day. I tried to throw a little juke me on the guys back in the backfield and try to get into the end zone.”
Vea only helped himself at the NFL Scouting combine, covering 40 yards in 5.11 seconds and pushing 41 reps on the bench press, second-best among invited defensive linemen. He is a unique combination of power and athleticism.
“He is a dancing bear,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s a freak.”