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2018 NFL Mock Draft: Mel Kiper gives the Redskins Vita Vea

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Mel Kiper loves Vita Vea to the Redskins

NCAA Football: Portland State at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Kiper returns with his third mock draft of the 2018 NFL draft season for E$PN IN$IDER this morning. Mock 1.0 saw the Hair give the Redskins Heisman Trophy-winning QB Baker Mayfield, but then the Alex Smith trade happened, and the Kirk Cousins era was over in Washington.

Kiper's second mock draft gave the Redskins some big-time help on the defensive line with former University of Washington DT Vita Vea. The Redskins have been looking to add a DL veteran in free agency, but have not been able to sign anyone yet. They remain in contact with former Giants and Colts DT Johnathan Hankins, but reportedly aren't close on money.

Kiper goes back to the defensive line and gives Washington Vita Vea again in his newest mock draft. The Redskins had a ton of injuries on defense last year, but that wasn’t the only reason they finished last in run defense. Washington lost so many important players on defense, including rookie Jonathan Allen, and 2nd-year DE Matt Ioannidis, who were critical to stopping the run. The team signed Stacy McGee who was effective, and Terrell McClain who was injured, ineffective, and recently had his deal redone to make it easier to replace him this year.

13. Vita Vea, DT, Washington

As I noted in Mock Draft 2.0, Washington ranked last in the league in run defense in 2017, allowing 134.1 yards per game. This team needs a nose tackle who can eat up space and take on blockers, and that’s what Vea brings. He’s a strong and athletic tackle who can also get after quarterbacks. The Redskins like 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen, who played in only five games because of a Lisfranc injury, and he and Vea would be a nice defensive foundation on which to build.

Vea gives the Redskins a big, versatile defensive lineman to add to their hopefully healthy rotation. Ziggy Hood has been manning the middle of the line, and needs to be upgraded. Vea will immediately help with defending the run, and work with DL coach Jim Tomsula to cause pressure on opposing QBs. The Redskins haven’t put high value on the nose tackle position since switching to the 3-4 defense, often bringing in veterans on their last legs to fill the role. Will the Redskins have their need at defensive line taken care of before the draft, will they spend the 13th pick on DL again this year, or will they look elsewhere at this critical spot?

Next 6 picks:

14. Green Bay Packers: Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio

15. Arizona Cardinals: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

16. Baltimore Ravens: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

17. Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

18. Seattle Seahawks: Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

19. Dallas Cowboys: Rashaan Evans, ILB, Alabama