Vita Vea displayed versatility to headline Pac-12 NFL standouts
This week in football, Pac-12 NFL fans were treated to a rare gem: a 347-pound player scoring an offensive touchdown. Everyone loves it when defensive players catch touchdown passes. Who else joined Vita Vea with top Pac-12 NFL Week 12 performances?
The Big List of Pac-12 NFL Performers, College by College
Nick Foles – Jacksonville Jaguars
Honestly, it’s a tough year for Arizona. Each and every week, it’s a difficult school to find Pac-12 NFL talent. This week, Foles was alright. Not great. But not horrible. He completed 66.7-percent of his passes for 272 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. It’s weeks like this that make fans wish the Jags would have stuck with Gardner Minshew.
However, there aren’t any significant Arizona options in the NFL right now. Therefore, it’s Nick Foles beating a low bell-curve.
N’Keal Harry – New England Patriots
Now, we’re not going to try and paint N’Keal Harry a Pro-Bowler. But, he reached a big milestone this Sunday. In the first quarter, N’Keal Harry caught the game’s lone touchdown. It was his very first touchdown and hopefully there will be many more.
In college, N’Keal Harry’s 43.9-percent (89th-percentile) College Dominator and 18.7 (95th-percentile) Breakout Age were collegiate elite. Combine that with a 134.5 (98th-percentile) SPARK-x Score and first-round draft pedigree. All to go along with playing snaps for the New England Patriots dynasty. N’Keal Harry’s stock will only go up from here.
Mychal Kendricks – Seattle Seahawks
11 solo tackles. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mychal Kendricks was a sure-tackler. He locked up the middle of the field and helped keep the Eagles to just 9 points.
Kendricks also made one tackle for a loss. It wasn’t a pretty win for the Seahawks. But, it was a win nonetheless. And, the defense held up well to a receiver-less Eagles offense. Kendricks double-digit tackle total was a large part of that win.
Jimmy Smith – Baltimore Ravens
Earlier this season, the Baltimore Ravens secondary was exploitable. Now, with the addition of Marcus Peters and a healthy Jimmy Smith, the Ravens are once again difficult to face. On Monday night, the Ravens dominated the Rams.
In their easy win, Jimmy Smith made big plays. Not only did he sack quarterback Jared Goff, but he intercepted the ball to seal the game. Jimmy Smith is a great Pac-12 NFL representative.
Arik Armstead – San Francisco 49ers
Oh my. All quarterbacks should fear Arik Armstead. Incredibly, Armstead hit quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and sacked him twice. His defensive pressure is a great asset for the San Francisco 49ers.
On the season, Armstead now has:
- 10 Sacks
- 13 Quarterback Hits
- 38 Tackles
- 10 Tackles for a Loss
- 2 Forced Fumbles
- One Fumble Recovery
- 88.8 PFF Grade
Steven Nelson – Pittsburgh Steelers
This year, Steven Nelson is low-key having a great season. He’s top-24 in Player Profiler’s Coverage Rating, Receptions Allowed, Catch Rate Allowed and Yards Allowed. Additionally, Nelson owns a 77.2 PFF grade.
It’s a great year for him. Against 42 targets, he’s allowed just 20 receptions. He’s an underrated corner climbing to the top of his game. Sitting at six and five, the Steelers are on the hunt for a playoff spot. They need Nelson to keep churning out solid games.
Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
It’s just not fair. No one can tackle Christian McCaffrey one-on-one. Even against a stout defense with a backup quarterback, McCaffrey finds a way to score. Although the Saints held him to just 64 yards on 22 carries, he still added 9 receptions for 69 yards a touchdown.
Almost every week, McCaffrey climbs to the top of Pac-12 NFL performers. He’s such a unique talent at the position. His combination of power, agility and pass-catching keep him at the top of running back lists.
Fabian Moreau – Washington Redskins
Up until this game, Fabian Moreau played mostly slot-corner in the NFL. However, moved to outside cornerback against the Lions, he was finally able to show off his skillset. On the day, Moreau racked up six tackles and two pass break-ups.
But, his biggest plays came on his two interceptions. Moreau displayed an ability to jump routes and track the deep-ball. Moreover, he did what many corners can’t. He held onto the ball and earned his team possession. Well done Mr. Moreau.
Sam Darnold – New York Jets
It’s been an up and down season for the Jets. But, just like last season, Sam Darnold is closing out the season well. This time, he torched the Oakland Raiders and didn’t let off the gas.
- 315 Passing Yards
- 2 Passing Touchdowns
- 16 Rushing Yards
- One Rushing Touchdown
His 83.5 QBR and 127.8 Passer Rating were both season highs. Darnold and the Jets are now on a three-game win streak. Also, keep in mind that Darnold is still only 22 years old. We still have years to go with this young, Pac-12 NFL quarterback. Provided he doesn’t get Mono again next season, New York has it’s quarterback.
Star Lotulelei – Buffalo Bills
Although his stat line from Week 11 was more impressive, Star Lotulelei had another impactful game in Week 12. Against the Denver Broncos, Lotulelei recorded another solo sack. Back-to-back weeks with a full sack. In his seven-year career, Lotulelei’s career-best is four sacks in 2016.
It would be nice to see him beat that total by closing out the year with a streak. Granted, his sacks came against Miami and Denver. So, it’s highly unlikely that he’ll be able to continue this fun. However, in the final quarter of the NFL season, why not root for an underdog?
Vita Vea – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Everyone loves it when the big guy scores. And Vita Vea is one large, athletic specimen. Standing at 6-foot-4 and weighing in at 347lbs, Vea is a monster of a man.
In their win against Atlanta, Vea caught a one-yard pass from Jameis Winston for the touchdown. That puts his career catch percentage at 100-percent. Of course it’s just one target. But, it’s reminiscent of Mike Vrable’s receiving.
Additionally, Vita Vea managed to record two tackles, two pass break-ups and one sack. It was an excellent game for the big guy and a highlight Pac-12 NFL fans will be talking about all season.
Deone Bucannon – New York Giants
Unfortunately, Deone Bucannon injured his ankle in Week 12’s loss to the Chicago Bears. However, before he left the game, Bucannon recorded five tackles. One of which was an impressive defensive stop against Tarik Cohen. If he didn’t make the stop, Cohen would have likely run for more than just a first down.
In 2019, this was Bucannon’s first game with more than one tackle. During weeks 9, 10 and 12, Bucannon played 36 to 39-percent of defensive snaps. His move from special teams to defense for the New York Giants, along with his five tackles, are a bright spot for Cougar fans.
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