All-Twenty Tuesday: Bucs DT Vita Vea
Since I haven’t given him a good study in a few weeks now, I wanted to go back over some of Vita Vea’s film during the Giants game and see how the Bucs’ first-round rookie is preforming now that he’s had plenty of time to get into regular season shape following his absence from training camp due to his calf injury.
Okay, for starters, Vea doesn’t even start. Beau Allen starts in front of him, and not that Allen is bad or anything, but he has two tackles for loss all season, and Vea can’t even jump him in the starting lineup. And not only does Vea not start, he doesn’t play late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line and he also isn’t a preferred defensive lineman in the red zone. He is strictly a backup player at this stage of his career.
One of the reasons why is shown in somewhat of an example above. Vea is just in slow motion compared to the rest of the guys. The Bucs’ entire defensive line looks like they move in slow motion sometimes, but for Vea especially, he’s typically on his blocks too long, too late to recognize when to get into a gap or get back into a play, and he’s not nearly violent enough to be a game changer in the middle. At least, not right now he’s not.
Here’s another example.
Yes, other players were making the play at Eli Manning and it all worked out, but Vea got great push initially and just continued to bull rush his guy until his lineman was able to anchor. At no point did he use his momentum and his advantage of an off-balance lineman to rip by or get around him. He’s just a snow plow right now. He can move some serious weight, but if he has no moves and slow hands, it barely matters when it comes to penetration turning into sacks or tackles for loss.
Here’s yet another example. Vea gets great push into the backfield, and was right where the running back wanted to go, but Vea didn’t even attempt to get off of his block – or at least it didn’t look like it. In fact, Vea doesn’t even shed the block until the running back has already been brought down a few yards behind him. That’s way too slow, and honestly, that’s on defensive line coach Brentson Buckner. He’s done a poor job developing Vea thus far.
Vea’s impact is so limited right now because he just is not violent enough. There is no speed in the hands or with the arms. There’s nothing to make an offensive lineman uncomfortable outside of knocking them back a few yards. Vea has no combination with his power. He’s a one-trick pony that isn’t even really a trick.
Vea also gets off balance a lot. Not sure why, but plays like the ones above happen at least once a week, it seems. In fact, the “scare” play where it was reported Vea may have torn something in his knee was on a play where he fell awkwardly like he did above. An odd inability to stay balanced and anchor for a man of his size.
All in all, Vea is not a starting defensive lineman, and that’s why he’s not starting. He’s a low-ceiling player right now, and unless he somehow gets way quicker with his hands and more violent with his movements to combo his bull rush, he might just be a standard nose tackle.
Vea needs a lot of work going into Year 2. Not saying he’s a bust or anything, but he is certainly behind the ball as a player drafted as high as he was, and he has to kick it into gear next year. He needs a shock to his style that can get Vea to play up to his potential.