By Max Moorman | @22Moorman
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — When you think of a nose tackle, you don’t usually think of a sub-five-second 40-yard dash. But Vita Vea of the University of Washington, the Pacific-12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, might just be the one to do it. Vea, at 6 feet, 4 inches and 344 pounds, has been compared to other big athletic lineman like Haloti Ngata of the Detroit Lions and former Washington teammate Danny Shelton.
If Vea can produce at a level similar to those two former Pac-12 stars, he could become a first-round choice with a bright future ahead of him in the NFL. Ngata’s 40-yard dash time was 5.18 40, while Shelton of the Cleveland Browns ran a 5.64.
When asked Saturday about how fast he was going to run his 40, Vea replied, “Fast.”
When asked how fast he would be, Vea said, “I don’t know. I am not a man of predictions.”
Vea was asked about his former teammate John Ross, a first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017, whose time of 4.22 seconds became the fastest in combine history, 0.02 faster than Chris Johnson of East Carolina in 2008.
When asked if he talked to Ross about running, Vea laughed and said, “You can tell John Ross and Adidas that I am coming for that island.” Adidas last year offered to buy any NFL prospect who set a new 40-yard dash record an island if they were wearing Adidas cleats. When Ross beat Johnson’s record, he was not wearing Adidas cleats.
Vea played running back in high school in Milpitas, California. Vea also played quarterback in high school. He said he once threw the ball “30 feet up in the air and it was gone and that was my quarterback dreams, up in the air, lost in the wind.”
He was a 270-pound running back in high school, and the video makes him look like a giant. Vea said he liked to try and run like LaDainian Tomlinson when he was playing the halfback position.
Many of the prominent mock drafts project Vea going somewhere between seventh to Tampa Bay and 13th to Washington. Vea was asked what teams he would like to go to, and he just mentioned that he is “focusing on the task at hand.”