Vita Vea ranks in top ten of NFL interior defensive lineman2 min read
Pro Football Focus revealed their 2022 pre-season top 25 interior defensive lineman rankings recently. PFF ranked them, while in the same breath, they categorized 5 different levels of excellence among those 25 players. Those levels start at the One of One, where it’s no surprise Aaron Donald finds himself all alone ranked at number one. The second level is Elite, where we find four players, Cameron Heyward of the Steelers at #2 overall, followed by Chris Jones (KC), Deforest Buckner (Ind), and Grady Jarrett (Atl) respectively. Then you have PFF’s third level of Very Good with Kenny Clark (GB) at number #6 overall, followed by the Buccaneers’ own Vita Vea at #7, Jonathan Allen (Wash), Jeffery Simmons (Ten), Leonard Williams (NYG) round out the top ten.
7. VITA VEA, TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
“Vea’s combination of size, strength and athleticism gives him a unique skill set at the position. Since he was drafted in 2018, only the New Orleans Saints have had a more efficient run defense by expected points added per play than the Buccaneers. Vea has missed some time over that stretch, but he’s been a big part of one of the best run defenses in the NFL when on the field.”
It’s a respectable rank for Vea. I believe the time that Vea has missed due to injuries since 2018 has relegated him to that spot. If somehow he can play a couple of seasons without a sidelining injury, I believe that ranking will rise, as I don’t think we have seen the very best from him yet. No doubt he is where the rubber first hits the road on a very good run-stopping defense. His combination of size and athleticism is a problem for opposing linemen, and he must be accounted for, usually by more than one player. When he goes out with an injury, it’s noticeable. The Bucs have been able to close ranks during those times and have still been very good against the run to their credit. That defense goes up a notch with him in there, no doubt. Go Bucs!!
The PFF rankings can be found here.