Other than Jonathan Allen, last year’s first-round pick, Washington has few impact players along the defensive line. That’s why it is somewhat puzzling that the team only signed veteran Phil Taylor this offseason. That has made it clear the team will go into the 2018 NFL draft in search of at least one talented player up front.
The question is who fits best. Allen’s teammate, Da’Ron Payne, would give Washington a pair of gap pluggers up front. Someone like Taven Bryan of Florida could play at end and help create pressure.
So then, why not a player who can do both? Fortunately in the SB Nation NFL writers’ mock draft, that players is available for Ken Meringolo of Hogs Haven.
13. Washington: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Meringolo: On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to thank the Buffalo Bills for drafting Josh Allen in the No. 12 spot. Had they gone a different direction, I would have been endlessly harassed for drafting and bringing the Wyoming product to D.C. on the heels of trading for Alex Smith. Washington does need to be in the business of developing long-term quarterback solutions, but thankfully, that task can wait just a little bit longer. In the meantime, the Washington run defense gets the boost it so desperately needs right at the point of attack.
The addition of the ridiculously agile 350-pound defensive lineman of Tongan ancestry is going to spark a spontaneous Haka across the entire Washington fanbase. The thought of Vea and Jonathan Allen playing next to each other in the trenches on Sundays — under the tutelage of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula — should really energize this team. This draft pick is equal parts best player available AND need-based, which is exactly what a mid-first round pick should be, and will keep the heat off of the oft-maligned Washington front office. Vita’s crazy athleticism will allow him to move up and down the defensive line, but his ability to push centers and guards into the pocket and defend the run should give the Washington defense something it has not had at the point of attack in quite some time.
Not for nothing, but Vea does have a history running the ball (had 11 touchdowns his senior year of high school), and Washington’s short-yardage offense was miserable last year. #Justsayin’
Analysis: It’s hard to fault this choice. Vea fits the obvious need, and he’s one of the 10 best players in this draft. For most of the draft process he’s been linked to Washington, so it’s hard to say anything critical about the choice.
Dan Kadar’s top five players remaining
- 7. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
- 13. Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
- 14. Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
- 15. Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
- 16. Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
What grade do you give the pick of Vita Vea by Washington?
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