For this mock draft simulation using On the Clock regular I wanted to take a look at what a Vita Vea draft would look like without any trades. In addition to grabbing Vea in the first round I was going to take a running back in the second. Beyond that I was looking to fill holes and get value with the picks. Follow along with the simulation here!
13: R1P13 DL VITA VEA WASHINGTON
-Vea is the best interior defensive lineman in this draft class, who has size, power, quickness, and pretty good instincts. He can play NT in a 3-4 base defense and some 5 technique at times. In four man fronts he can line up at either spot, but probably more of a 1 technique who specializes in stopping the run. Though Vea is better versus the run as he is nearly an immovable object in the middle of the defense, he does show some ability to get after the quarterback when he’s allowed to attack. He’s very quick for his size, and it allows him to exploit interior offensive linemen who haven’t had a chance yet to anchor down.
The biggest questions surrounding Vea are two-fold. One, how often can he be on the field? At Washington Vea was given plenty of opportunities to rest and he only played in about 50% of the snaps this past season. Can he be more of a full time player at the NFL level? The other question is just how good he can be, and if it’s worth the 13th overall selection.
One defensive lineman who Vea gets comped to is Dontari Poe. Poe has been a very good interior DL in his career and one who plays about 70-75% of the snaps. Despite that on the open market Poe has been worth about $8M a year in his two seasons on the fqree agent market. The question becomes if Vea = Poe, and the Redskins weren’t willing to pay Poe (or apparently Jonathan Hankins) does it make sense to use a top 15 selection on that player. That becomes even a bigger concern if Vea can’t even give the Redskins the snaps Poe/Hankins would.
At the end of the day Vea is a very good prospect and he fills a major hole on the Redskins, the question ends up being, is he worth the selection.
44: R2P12 RB RASHAAD PENNY SAN DIEGO STATE
-I was pretty determined to grab a running back with this pick and when I got on the board my options were between Penny and Nick Chubb. I would be fine with either option as I think both fill the early down role the Redskins currently lack, and both have the upside for more.
Penny in his first full year as a starter led the nation in rushing yards with over 2,200, was 2nd in rushing TDs with 23 and was 5th in yards per carry (7.78) among backs with at least 100 carries. He is a good size running back, who has speed and agility. Penny has showcased his big play ability for years on special teams where he had 7 kick-off return TDs over the last three years (though unlikely he’d be used as a returner in the NFL), and has gotten regular work the past two years in San Diego State’s offense.
Though he hasn’t had a lot of opportunities Penny has been effective out of the back-field and should help add in this area for the Redskins. He compares pretty favorably to Kareem Hunt, and he could end up being the rookie running back this year that no one is talking about, but who ends up with a great season.
109: R4P9 C MASON COLE MICHIGAN
-Personally I’d be thrilled if Cole is still there in the 4th round as I see him as more of a 3rd round guy, but plenty of big boards have him in this area. Cole has started every game for Michigan in his four year career between LT and C. He’s an extremely versatile player who could back-up every position along the offensive line, but he profiles best as an interior player at the next level. The Redskins could either use Cole or Roullier at center with the other one moving over to LG, where there currently is a sizable hole. Cole gets overlooked some in this class because he might not have the upside as some of the top interior offensive linemen options, but he has a very good chance of developing into a solid, above average starter. On top of that he’s NFL ready now and should push for the starting role day one. For a 4th round pick that is really good value and would help fill a major concern for the Redskins in 2018.
142: R5P5 LB FRED WARNER BRIGHAM YOUNG
-Warner is a smaller interior LB, but he’s very good versus the run and shows a lot of promise in pass coverage. While he’s unlikely to unseat Foster or Brown as a rookie (which as a 5th rounder is not unexpected), he offers great depth and special teams ability. Warner has decent athleticism, but his greatest strength could be his instincts and play recognition. He excels both areas and it allows him to be around the football making plays.
163: R5P26 CB NICK NELSON WISCONSIN
-Nelson started 35 games in his career between Hawaii and Wisconsin, and in that time showed himself to be a good solid corner prospect with nice size and speed. Nelson is really strong in coverage, shows a nice ability in both reacting in zone coverage or staying with his player in man coverage. Nelson gets knocked for not having an interception in college, but he had over 40 passes broken up in his career which is a really good number and shows he’s doing the number one thing that DBs are responsible for and that is not allowing the offense to complete the pass. Nelson did tear his meniscus in a workout this offseason, and that likely will cost him a round or two in draft position, but in the late 5th round he’s an interesting option for the Redskins.
He may need to start the year on the PUP list, but he should be able to still contribute this season. What’s more important though is his ability going forward. Nelson has some starting potential, so getting that ability this late in the draft is a nice benefit. The Redskins hopefully won’t need him much his rookie year, but in 2019 and 2020 they will have some decisions to make about the top of their cornerback depth chart.
205: R6P31 G JAMIL DEMBY MAINE
-The Redskins heading into the draft have 5 of their likely 9 offensive line spots locked up, with four starters set (Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses and Chase Roullier) and one key back-up (Ty Nseke), that leaves a bunch of street free agents and Arie Kouandjio battling it out for the LG spot and three back-up roles. With drafting Cole he should take the starting role, but that leaves three wide open back-up roles.
Demby would be a nice late round addition as he can help both at guard and tackle giving them nice versatile depth. Demby is a smaller school guy, but he dominated there and held his own at the Senior Bowl. While he’s probably years away from developing into the starter, he could be a nice late round back-up option with a little developmental potential as well.
231: R7P13 S DAMON WEBB OHIO STATE
-There is a lot of debate in the draft community when it comes to Webb as some see him more as a 4th round player, while others feel 6th-7th round is more likely. Webb has been pretty productive at Ohio State these past two years and has some potential to become a starting safety at the next level. He’s got some free safety ability, but could fill either role and will be a key contributor on Special teams. Even if he never develops and reaches his upside, his special teams ability alone should make him a good selection this late in the draft.
241: R7P23 EDGE JOE OSTMAN CENTRAL MICHIGAN
-Ostman could end up going a couple rounds earlier, he was highly productive in college, and while a bit smaller, he’s got good athletic testing numbers and would fit the Redskins as a situational pass rusher. He’s a high motor guy with good burst off the edge and he knows how to finish.
For a non-trade back scenario, this is a nice draft for the Redskins as they find good starting options for their three biggest needs G/C, RB, NT, and grab some good depth options with some potential later in the draft as well.
Vea is a stud defensive tackle, it just seems odd the Redskins would draft him this high when they are passing up similar free agents. He would be a big help to their defense though and give them a really strong starting unit of Allen, Ioannidis and Vea as the anchor in the middle. With solid back-up options in Lanier and McGee.
Penny gives the Redskins a complete back with some nice upside in Penny. I know some might go Nick Chubb over Penny and I think that is a fine option, but Penny is a guy I wouldn’t overlook. He could be a star running back at the NFL level.
Cole is one of my favorite players in the draft as he’s a player who adds toughness, versatility, durability, and leadership to the Redskins. Warner and Nelson are guys who I both see as eventual starters and I wouldn’t count out Webb from that group as well. As always tell me what you think in the comments and share your mock drafts as well!