The 24 year-old DT Vita Vea probably got the best news of his young football career a week ago when the Buccaneers officially signed Ndamukong Suh. As he now gets to learn from a dominant DT who plays with tenacity and takes no plays off. Something we haven’t seen since, perhaps, since the likes of Warren Sapp in Raymond James. Tampa Bay, of course, hopes any of that knowledge rubs off onto Vea.
Looking back at the former Washington Husky’s rookie season, he really began to turn the corner near the last half of the regular season. Not just solid, but some pretty dominant play. It was evident down the stretch when Vea turned in a monster Week 15 game against the run first Baltimore Ravens team. The now 330lbs DT consistently beat his man and ended the game with SEVEN total tackles, 4 “stops” and a tackle for no gain (PFF). According to PFF, it was the rookie’s highest grade of the season at an elite (91.2).
Vita Vea Looks To Build Off Rookie Campaign
Vea finished his rookie season with a very serviceable 74.1 overall grade, notched a 75.4 passing grade (which should excite the naysayers about his pass rush ability), with 26 total pressure, and 17 total stops. The latter two stats being right on par with Gerald McCoy last year. Just look at this mean highlight from Vea’s Husky days.
Vea’s counterpart this year? A guy who’s been dominant throughout the playoffs, including the Super Bowl, but just coming up short. Suh himself graded out nicely with an overall 82.6 grade while playing for the Rams last year. Which is still well above average considering his age (32).
Suh looks like he has two to three complimentary years with Vea if he proves himself worthy of a veteran-friendly extension after the season. Overall, Vea will continue to turn that corner the way he did late last season and bloom this year next to Suh.
42 Total Tackles
The one thing that sticks out to me about Vea is the fact that you could tell he was slowly starting to learn the game as the season went on. It speaks volumes to a definitive quick study at a position that takes years to perfect. The sky is the limit for him this year.