The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rather sizeable representation at the 2022 Pro Bowl just got bigger.
On Monday, Buccaneers defensive lineman Vita Vea was added to the NFC roster, replacing Aaron Donald, whose Los Angeles Rams will be otherwise occupied with Super Bowl LVI. Vea becomes the ninth Tampa Bay player to get an invite to the all-star game, matching the largest Pro Bowl contingent in franchise history. The Buccaneers also had nine Pro Bowlers after the 2000 season.
Vea joins a Pro Bowl roster that already includes outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, quarterback Tom Brady, wide receiver Mike Evans, center Ryan Jensen, guard Ali Marpet, inside linebacker Devin White, safety Antoine Winfield, Jr. and tackle Tristan Wirfs. Brady and Wirfs will not play in the game due to shoulder and ankle ailments, respectively.
Vea started all 16 games for the Buccaneers in the 2021 regular season and was a key cog in a defense that ranked fifth in points allowed and third in rushing yards allowed. He recorded 33 tackles along with 4.0 sacks, five tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, three passes defensed and a forced fumble. In the postseason, he added four stops, 1.0 sack, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. Vea's attention-drawing presence in the middle of the trenches helped the Bucs' defense finish seventh in the NFL with 47 sacks overall.
Four of the Buccaneers' last eight first-round draft picks are now in this year's Pro Bowl, with Vea (2018) joining Evans (2014), White (2019) and Wirfs (2020). Marpet and Winfield were second-round picks in 2015 and 2020, respectively. This is the most of the team's own draft picks it has had in a single Pro Bowl since seven Buccaneer draftees were on the squad in 2000.
The 2022 Pro Bowl will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas this coming Sunday, February 6. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. ET and the game will be televised by ESPN, ABC and Disney XD.