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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?

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

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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Captain Sly
2 months ago

No argument from me, these rankings are purely subjective anyways…. However somebody need to go over there and stop Scott from making a fool of himself with his rankings though!!

surferdudes
2 months ago

He’d be top five if he can manage playing a whole season.

Dman
Reply to  surferdudes
2 months ago

Exactly.

bucballer
2 months ago

It doesn’t matter what national pundits think about Vea. We saw what he meant to the Bucs last season. He’s a one man wrecking ball. His ability to crash the pocket is fun to watch. This year hopefully without injury he will put together a monster season with stats to go with it.

Last edited 2 months ago by bucballer
Dave
Reply to  bucballer
2 months ago

At the position he plays, and what he’s asked to do, stats are completely irrelevant. Some of the best NT’s of all time, never produced eye popping stats(Wilfork, Pat Williams, Ngata, S.Rodgers, C.Hampton, J.Williams, etc..), but were a complete force, and completely changed the defense

bucballer
Reply to  Dave
2 months ago

Stats r never “completely irrelevant!” Tell that to Warren Sapp. That’s why they play the game!

toofamiliar17
Reply to  Dave
2 months ago

I think it’s more accurate that stats matter for Vea, just not particularly the stats most focus on when judging individual defensive linemen. Which isn’t to say that his tackle and sack totals don’t mean anything, just that the ways in which he affects the game are harder to identify with a traditional box score. I care a lot about other, less traditional stats to gauge his performance.

bucballer
Reply to  toofamiliar17
2 months ago

Stats r how players get paid! Ask Shaq. Games played, QB pressures. These r all very important. I think what was meant was that Vea, at his position, means more to the team than just his stats. His presence in the lineup is invaluable because he must be double teamed and accounted for on every play. Again, we saw his value when he was added to the roster after his injury. But, to say stats don’t matter, well that is why they play the game. Get stats, get paid!

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