Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds vs. Washington DT Vita Vea
This matchup might be about positional preference. The defensive line is more of an immediate need with all four starting linebackers returning for the Redskins, but Edmunds brings that rare combination of size, speed and athleticism. Plus, outside linebacker Preston Smith will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019.
Washington had the No. 32 run defense in 2017, allowing 134.1 yards per game. Vea is a run-stopper who would have a greater impact in that area, but the linebackers also have to be involved. The Redskins would be showing a clear commitment to the defensive line by selecting Vea after taking defensive tackle Jonathan Allen at No. 17 in the 2017 draft.
Vea is one of the top two defensive tackles in most evaluations, alongside Alabama strongman Da’Ron Payne. Edmunds and Georgia’s Roquan Smith are thought to be the top two linebackers.
The Breakdown: Edmunds
The 6-foot-5, 252-pounder has the athletic traits that make scouts drool, running the fifth-fastest 40-yard dash among linebackers at the combine (4.54 seconds). He led Virginia Tech with 109 tackles, 14 for loss, and added 5½ sacks, four quarterback hurries and three forced fumbles. Edmunds, commonly regarded as the best linebacker in the draft, was named first-team all-ACC and a third-team all-American by the Associated Press.
NFLDraftScout.com: “It isn’t often that you come across traditional off-ball linebackers with Edmunds’ exciting blend of size, instincts and speed. He is still a bit rough around the edges — attacking with reckless abandon and occasionally leaving holes for savvy ball-carriers to exploit — but he possesses the upside to warrant first round consideration, projecting as a future starter and potential difference-maker.”
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “Edmunds combines elite size, speed and explosiveness into a productive, versatile linebacker package that will have evaluators salivating. Edmunds has posted high-impact production over the last two seasons and he still has room to get bigger and better. He will make mental mistakes and his instincts are subpar, but he has an ability to mitigate those issues with his athletic ability. Edmunds can play in any alignment at any linebacker spot and has all-pro potential no matter where he lands.”
The Breakdown: Vea
Vea was named 2017 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, first-team all-Pac-12 and a third-team all-American by the Associated Press. He finished the season with 44 tackles, including 5½ for loss, 3½ sacks and four pass break-ups. The 6-foot-4, 347-pounder played all along the line and ran a 5.10 40-yard dash at the combine. His 41 reps on the bench press were the second-most among defensive linemen. The athletic big man played running back and on the defensive line in high school.
ESPN’s Todd McShay: “At 6-4 and 347 pounds, the former high school running back was a space-eater in the middle of Washington’s defense. With 3½ sacks and 5½ TFLs, he has the ability to split double-teams and wreak havoc in the backfield. A hamstring strain kept Vea from doing on-field drills at the combine, but he showed off his strength (41 bench-press reps) and speed (5.11 40 at 347 pounds).”
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah: “I have Vita Vea as my 11th guy. … I was in Baltimore when we drafted Haloti Ngata, was covering the west coast during that time. He reminds me so much of Haloti. You play him up and down the line of scrimmage, they move him all over the place. He’s got a nasty hump move as a pass rusher, you can see that physical power. You watch him just stack and toss offensive linemen. … He can really roll his hips and he’s got tremendous power there as a run defender. I think he does have upside as a pass rusher. Y0u just look at his athleticism. We’re talking about making a tackle on punt coverage, he’s blocked a punt. I remember watching Haloti block a punt against Arizona.”
Can’t see the Poll?Click Here.
More from The Post: