(Editor's Note: While the start of the 2018 NFL Draft isn't until April 26, it's never too early to profile some of the key participants. The staff of DallasCowboys.com intends to preview the landscape of the draft's top prospect, with an emphasis on possible Cowboys draft picks – from the first round to the last. Today's featured player is Washington's Vita Vea.)
- Name: Vita Vea
- Position: Defensive Tackle
- Height/Weight:6-4 / 347
- Honors: Named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and won the Morris Trophy, given to the Pac-12's best defensive linemen.
- Key Stat:Rare strength was seen at the combine, where he benched 41 reps of 225 pounds. His quickness helped him get 15.0 tackles for loss in three seasons and 9.5 sacks.
Where He's Projected:
It's hard to see Vea falling out of the first round, especially when some experts have him mocked just outside of the Top 10. Will he be around for the Cowboys at No. 19? That will be close but if it happens, expect the Cowboys to be interested, considering he was among the team's 30 visits.
How He Helps The Cowboys:
A few months earlier, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones said he didn't expect the team to use a first-round pick on a nose tackle. But Vea seems to be much more than a guy who lines up over the center and fills the gaps. He's a space-eater but also has shown the ability to get up the field and play in the backfield. If he joined the Cowboys, he would likely play the 1-technique but would be expected to rush the passer and get to the running backs.
- Powerful base and upper body.
- Can get rid of blockers quickly. Hard to move as he works down the line. plays with a wide base but can still move.
- Arm over with a spin move.
- Can get some penetration. Works into the backfield. Does a nice job of finding the ball. Can walk his man back into the backfield. Will use the blocker to close the hole.
- Regularly sees two blockers.
- Light on his feet. Ease of movement. Plays with balance. Stays square along the line.
- Will surprise you with his closing speed. Big man that can really run/chase.