New Packers FB Danny Vitale is an Interesting Prospect

Vitale was mainly a special teams player in Cleveland, but he has an intriguing athletic background.

Vitale was mainly a special teams player in Cleveland, but he has an intriguing athletic background.

The Packers have a brand new fullback in the building: 6-1, 239 pound Danny Vitale (pronounced vuh-TAL-ee, not like the basketball announcer) out of Northwestern University.

A college teammate of Dean Lowry’s (and now the third player on the Packers roster from Northwestern, along with Lowry and Tyler Lancaster), Vitale is an interesting player. A 2016 sixth-round pick by the Buccaneers, he played in nine games over two seasons with the Browns.

I know he’s listed as a fullback, but he’s not a fullback in the traditional sense. Take a look at his the description of his strengths as a player in his scouting report:

Utilized at versatile "superback" position during his time at Northwestern. Has shown ability to line up in slot, from behind center and all points in ­between. Runs better routes than many of the wideouts in this draft. Able to catch throws in traffic and take the hit. Shows no hesitation to stick his nose in the hole and into his intended target as a blocker. Generally solid radar as a blocker. Consistently lands his strikes inside the framework of defender. Team-oriented and highly coachable leader.

Based on that description (and his brief appearances with Cleveland), Vitale probably projects as a sort of Lance Kendricks H-back type player in Green Bay, except with maybe a little bit more of a focus on running back-type things than fullback-type things. Here’s how that looked during Vitale’s tenure in Evanston.

It’s also worth noting that Vitale was a real workout warrior at the 2016 NFL Combine. His 4.6 40-yard dash time isn’t outstanding, but his 30 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press and 38.5-inch vertical certainly are. His short and long shuttle times were also the best at his position group, for what that’s worth.

The signing also continues a notable trend for Packers GM Brian Gutekunst: if you’re going to be a fringe roster player in Green Bay, you’d better be an outstanding athlete.

Although Vitale doesn’t have eye-popping numbers in a vacuum, at the position he’s likely to play, he’s an excellent athlete, and his versatility makes him interesting even if he never ends up on the active roster.

This post is an adapted transcript of the most recent episode of Blue 58, a Packers podcast from The Power Sweep. Listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, CastBox and more to stay on top of the best in Packers news and analysis.