Buccaneers more than pleased with first-round pick Vea

By The Sports Xchange  |  April 27, 2018 at 1:51 AM
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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea with the 12th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Here is what Vea and the Buccaneers had to say to the media:

DEFENSIVE TACKLE VITA VEA

On his feelings after being drafted and his visit to Tampa:

"It was really exciting, seeing all of my family and friends around the table get really excited when my name got called. I took a visit there. I felt like I had a great connection with the coaches. I met some great people there and I am happy to be in this situation."

On the Buccaneers' defensive line:

"I know (Gerald) McCoy's out there and you know he's doing his thing. (Coach Brentson) Buckner came in. He's a great coach, a great guy. I had a great meeting with him. I felt like we really connected and he taught me a lot of stuff just from being with for an hour and watching myself and critiquing my technique and going over stuff like that."

On his college coach Chris Petersen being a 'no-nonsense' coach:

"That helped a lot. You couldn't slack around, obviously, or else you knew you were getting punished by running. Everybody hates running so you just have to stay on it, stay on top of your work. Coach P is a great guy, not only as a coach, but as a mentor in life. He was just downstairs. It was great seeing him. I hadn't seen him in a while."

On how his family's financial struggles inspired him:

"This moment is really exciting being that I'm in the situation now, I never have to go through that anymore. When that did happen, I told myself that I was going to make it one day and you know, here I am. That's that."

On if he sees himself as a 'three-down' player:

"Most definitely. At Washington I wasn't (playing just) first or second down, I stayed on the field all three downs. You put on the tape for Penn State and even though we lost, in the second half, I basically didn't get subbed out for the whole second half. So you know I was in there and I think that just goes to show that I'm capable of staying out there all three downs."

GENERAL MANAGER JASON LICHT

"I'm smiling from ear-to-ear."

"Vita is a guy that we've liked for a long time here. Very early in the process he's a guy that we identified that could really, really help us. He's not only a great run stuffer but he's also got athleticism, freakish athleticism, for a 347-pound guy and he holds that 347 very well. He's going to help us in a lot of areas. Great kid. Aw4esome kid, He's very resilient, been through a lot in his life, him and his family. (He has a) great family. He's overcome it. We like those kind of guys. I've said that over and over. He definitely fits that mold. He's very tough and loves football. So, we think he's going to be a great fit here."

On why the Bucs picked a defensive tackle after acquiring four defensive linemen this offseason:

"That's a good question but I'll just say that we stuck to our board here and you can never have enough good defensive linemen. I'll look at Philly last year. They had a lot of great defensive linemen. It starts up front. It always starts up front. I've been trying to do that for a few years here but it just never worked out where you could get an elite, premiere player that's on your board that high with our pick. So this year, we were able to do it. Fortunately, we were able to pick up a couple second-round picks along the way."

On the trade with Buffalo:

"When I got the call from Buffalo, and they even made us a great offer after going back and forth a little bit, (I) knew what they were going after. When you're going after a quarterback, you can't say that was a bad deal on their part. You have to be willing to spend a little bit more than you normally would to move up the board. So, we got the call, we thought about taking our guy there. He was in play there. We would have been very happy taking him there. We took a risk moving back. All the work that we did, intel that we did, we knew that there was a pretty good shot (we could get (Vea). A couple of teams there, we were a little nervous about but we also had other players that we could have taken too. Fortunately for us, we're sitting here talking about Vita. I couldn't be happier."

On whether he's gotten Gerald McCoy's reaction to the pick yet:

"I haven't talked to Gerald yet. He was already pretty happy. We got some good players here. Don't discount Beau Allen, Mitch Unrein. We overhauled that defensive line room a little bit, well quite a bit. I thought that, Dirk (Koetter) and I thought that that was a necessity after last year. Like I said, it starts up front and you can never go wrong having some ass kickers up there."

On Vea's personality and his physical strength:

"When we brought him in, I asked him in very simple terms, 'What is the most important thing a defensive lineman can do?' and I believe he said, 'Kick the crap out of the guy in front of me.' So, I like that about him. He still has a huge upside I should say. No player is perfect. I like guys that play hard, that are dominant players that still have a huge ceiling, a huge upside. He's one of those. He told a great story. He went to French Polynesia on a trip from Washington with a group of kids from Washington. There's electricity but they have no internet, no TV, all these things. They went to a field where a bunch of body builders were there and they were lifting rocks. So, Vita walks over to a huge rock that he sees and lifts it up and said that everyone started staring at him and mean-mugging him. For his duration that he was there, he found out that there was only one guy on the island that could lift that rock for the last decade. So, he's an Excalibur of sorts. He's got a great personality, he's a great storyteller. That's the point of the story here. After you get to know him, he'll light up a room."

On Vea's versatility and athleticism:

"Like I said, (he has) freakish athleticism for his size. They stand him up sometimes in some of their sub-packages off of the edge and he was productive in that too. So, one of the biggest tings we loved about him is that he can play the three (-technique), he can play the nose, he can play the five (-technique) in your run packages and he can get after the quarterback. So versatility and the type of kid he was, he was that man that we wanted."

On Vea's ability to pass rush:

"Well, he can stop the run but he's also a guy that is going to occupy blockers. Hopefully as we go, and I don't want to put him in Canton yet, but he's got to earn his role just like all players that we're going to draft. But, you get a guy like that, you have to occupy him, he's going to take on double teams and it's going to free somebody up."

On the flexibility that having two additional second-round picks:

"Yeah, it gives you a heck of a lot more than we had going into the draft. It's not out of the question, you can move up with that. I'm not saying we're going to move back into the first. You never know what kind of offer is going to come. But, it also allows some of those pick to move back a little bit and still collect some picks for day three."

On whether he spoke with Washington Head Coach Chris Petersen about Vea:

"Dirk and Coach Pete are very very close friends. We've had a lot of conversations, all positive. We probably wouldn't have been as high on him if it weren't for those conversations because he (Peterson) couldn't say enough good things about him (Vea) and not one bad."

On Vea's family overcoming struggles:

"He's that type, and the family, the way he's wired, that he never complained one day about it. It's, you know, roll with the punches, this is what life handed us, we'll get through it and they got through it. Now, I'm sure they're very happy right now."

On his feelings now compared to the final game of last season:

"I can't put it into words but very very good, much better, especially when you're building in the trenches."

HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER

"Obviously, we all really liked Vita's tape, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, extremely powerful man. We talked to him at the Combine, we brought him in on one of our 30 visits. We found out that he loves football, he's a family man, he's incredibly gifted athletically and we had him high on our board and we were able to trade back as Jason (Licht) already alluded to. (We were able to) trade back, pick up two second-round picks and still get one of the top guys on our board. It's a win-win."

On what Washington Head Coach Chris Peterson had to say about Vea:

"Coach Pete told me that besides the fact that he is a fantastic football player, that he's a type of guy that if you have a daughter, you would want this guy to marry your daughter. I know Coach Pete really well and for people who know him, Coach Pete is not a BS-er. He's one of the most honest guys there is. He and I coached together at Oregon, so we've remained close for several years."

On how much different the defensive line will look like with five new players and a new coach:

"We will wait until we get on the field to see that, but obviously, we've added a lot of really talented players there. We're extremely happy with the guys that have been here working with us in these first two weeks of the offseason program. I know that there are plenty of folks out there that thought we were going to go with a DB with this pick, but we have to get better on defense either way. So, whether you're putting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run or whether you're covering the receivers better, they're both positives. We also picked up some picks where we can address some of our other needs, so it's going to be a new look D-line and I know I can tell you as an offensive coach, the toughest teams we play are the teams that can overpower us upfront and can keep their defensive line fresh. That's something that we've wanted to do since we've been here and partly due to injuries, but also due to we haven't had this much talent in the D-line. You look at our two deep on our defensive front right now and at least on paper, we're much improved."

On how much of an asset Vea's speed will be to the defensive line:

"I think all those guys have different strengths and weaknesses including -- we've got an All-Pro guy in Gerald (McCoy). We're going to continue to look at the best ways to use those guys and move them around and bringing Beau Allen in and Mitch Unrein and (Vinny) Curry, of course JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), Noah (Spence), Will (Gholston). We've really improved our depth and we feel like Vita is athletic enough to play three different positions, but Gerald's athletic enough to play three different positions too. We'll see how it works out, but we're elated with the pick and can't wait for Vita to be out here tomorrow and for you folks to meet him."

On the rarity of Vea's strength and speed combination:

"At 340-whatever -- depending on what he ate for lunch today -- 340-something pounds and to see his athleticism on film. We do a thing where we do comparables to other guys in the NFL and the guys that he compares to -- on the telecast they had Haloti Ngata and I think most people you talk to that study tape for a living say that's a pretty good comparison. I know from competing against him in the past that that's a pretty high standard for Vita to live up to."

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