Bucs DT Vita Vea has made ESPN’s top ten defensive tackle ranking released on Tuesday – barely. The massive defensive tackle slotted in at No. 9, his first year cracking the list. Vea played just five regular season games in 2020 before a broken ankle ended his regular season in Week 5. During that time, Vea notched two sacks and three tackles-for-loss.
Vea’s triumphant return in the playoffs likely sealed his inclusion in these rankings. His box score production wasn’t noteworthy, but the Washington product was nearly unblockable in the playoffs. The Packers and Chiefs could not block him one-on-one, which opened up opportunities for the rest of the Bucs defensive line.
For the second straight season, ESPN is polling more than 50 league executives, coaches, scouts and players to rank the top 10 players in the NFL at each position. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler released the first article in the series on Monday, a ranking of the league’s top 10 edge defenders. The Bucs’ Shaq Barrett just missed the cut, listed as the first player in those also receiving votes.
Ahead of Vea on ESPN’s list were the expected suspects in Aaron Donald, Chris Jones, DeForest Buckner, Cam Heyward and Fletcher Cox. Jeffery Simmons, Leonard Williams and Stephon Tuitt are more debatable inclusions above Vea, but defensive tackle is one of the league’s better positions. With a full regular season, Vea could easily finish in the top five of next year’s rankings.
ESPN is releasing a new top ten every day for the next nine days, including off-ball linebackers tomorrow. Could Lavonte David and Devin White both make the top ten?
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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