A 350-pounder with track speed? Vita Vea is NFL draft's top freak

BY APD NEWSApr 17,2018 at 11:51

SEATTLE -- Vita Vea's position coach at Washington, Ikaika Malloe, had seen the massive defensive tackle pull off all sorts of improbable athletic feats for over two seasons. So he was used to it when he saw Vea, covering a punt in his final college game, sprint some 40 yards to take down the returner with an open-field tackle.

"By that time, there's not really anything he can do to shock me anymore," Malloe told ESPN.com last month. "You kind of just shrug your shoulders and say, 'Yep, I'm not surprised by it.' He does things that normally people of his size should not be doing. But he does it with such ease that you take it for granted. You kind of get used to him doing those types of things. He's got footwork like a linebacker or even a DB. He can backpedal with the best of them and change direction and flip his hips. In the beginning, maybe a year ago ... that's kind of when I was in awe of things, just of what he can do and that type of stuff."

Vea, a projected first-round pick in this year's NFL draft, showed during his three seasons at UW that he's much more than just an athletic marvel. He started 27 games and in 2017 was voted the Pac-12's defensive player of the year and the conference's top defensive lineman. His 9.5 career sacks are proof he possesses the pass-rush ability that can separate good defensive tackles from great ones.

"When you're 6-4, almost 350 pounds and you have incredible strength and you've got unbelievable quickness for your size, that is a rare combination," ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. "That's why he's drawing comparisons to Haloti Ngata. That's why I'm projecting him to go in the top part of the first round."

Kiper and ESPN's Todd McShay each had Vea going No. 13 overall to the Washington Redskins in their dueling two-round mock.

So just how freaky and dominant of an athlete is Vea? From outrunning a sprinter to jumping as high as cornerbacks and more, here are some tales told by those who have coached him and those who have played with him.

(ESPN)

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