Games are won in the trenches. We know this. The Bucs also addressed a dire need by weeding out the bad and bringing several pieces during the offseason.
That didn’t stop them Thursday night for Round 1 of the NFL Draft.
After trading down to No. 12, general manager Jason Licht called Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea, further solidifying their defensive line.
Vea joins a group that Licht is very excited about and proudly calls “ass kickers.”
“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,” said Licht after the selection of Vea. “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.”
Vea will fit right in with the group. The Buccaneers love his physicality. His toughness and skill set is not reflective through his stats, but that along with his attitude is what made him so attractive.
“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,” Licht said. “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.”
Still anchoring this “ass kickers” group is Gerald McCoy. The veteran defensive tackle has been active on Twitter since the scouting combine about Vea. And after the selection, McCoy expressed his excitement, this time for what will now be his new teammate.
After being selected, Vea talked about many things. And when asked about the Bucs’ defensive line, the Washington product referenced McCoy and new defensive line coach Brentson Buckner.
“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 him for an hour and watching myself and critiquing my technique and going over stuff like that.”
The selection was received with mixed reviews. Many feel that he is not the right guy with that No. 12 pick. But Vea is very confident in himself and is ready to hit the field to prove them wrong as an every-down lineman.
“At Washington I wasn’t [playing just] first or second down, I stayed on the field all three downs” Vea said. “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.”