Huskies Vea taken 12th overall in NFL Draft
TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are intent on building a defense capable of helping quarterback Jameis Winston end the team’s long playoff drought.
Tackle Vita Vea is the latest addition to a reconstructed unit that’s been a liability for most of the past decade, joining the Bucs as the 12th overall pick in the opening round of the NFL draft on Thursday night.
General manager Jason Licht described the 6-foot-4, 347-pound Vea as a dominant run-stopper who has “freakish athleticism” for his size.
The former University of Washington standout will be plugged into a revamped defensive line anchored by six-time Pro Bowl tackle Gerald McCoy, bolstered by last month’s trade for pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul and the signing of Beau Allen, Vinny Curry and Mitch Unrein in free agency.
The Bucs ranked last in the NFL with 23 sacks a year ago. Upgrading the defensive line and a porous secondary are among the top priorities after going 5-11 and missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season.
Winston is entering his fourth season after being drafted No. 1 overall in 2015. The offense has improved dramatically since the young quarterback entered the league, however the defense has not been able to hold up its end.
Licht some wheeling-and-dealing to bring in some fresh talent, acquiring Pierre-Paul in a trade from the New York Giants and signing Allen and Curry in free agency after they helped Philadelphia win the Super Bowl.
Vea was still available Thursday night after the Bucs traded the seventh overall pick to Buffalo, dropping five spots in the selection order while also receiving a pair of second-round picks in this year’s draft.
The move ensured the Bills of getting the quarterback they wanted, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, and gives the Bucs three premium picks — No. 38, 53 and 56 overall — in the second round.
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