The Buccaneers selected “SuperBack” Danny Vitale with their 197th pick in the NFL Draft, but how do they plan on utilizing his unique skill set?
With their second pick in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL draft, the Buccaneers selected Dan Vitale of Northwestern. Vitale was a dominant receiving fullback who could lineup in the backfield, and also out in the slot. Vitale, who was featured on The Pewter Plank in the past, has made fans wonder how he will be used in Coach Koetter’s system?
More from Bucs News
- Devin White posts cryptic message to Lavonte David on Twitter
- Updated Buccaneers depth chart after signing two players from rookie minicamp
- Todd Bowles sends clear message about Baker Mayfield’s role with Bucs
- The Athletic is wrong about Bucs one ‘must-watch’ game in 2023
- Todd Bowles admits he only looks at three things on Bucs schedule
Javorski Lane was the only fullback on the Buccaneers roster last year, and he was used sparingly. Lane’s injury in the season finale and lack of workload has left him without a job and the Bucs with a hole on their roster. Going into the draft there was some speculation that they would look to fill that need. The only known fullback to have prior talks with Tampa was none other than Dan Vitale. Vitale’s versatility in college is what helped him jump onto the Bucs’ draft board. His superback role in college had him mainly featured in the passing game more than run. Vitale finished at Northwestern with only a surprising 29 yards on the ground, but his threat in the pass was evident based upon his stats.
"ReceivingRushingScrimmageYearSchoolConfClassPosGRecYdsAvgTDAttYdsAvgTDPlaysYdsAvgTD*2012NorthwesternBig TenTE132828810.32122.002929010.022013NorthwesternBig TenSOSB123438211.234276.803840910.832014NorthwesternBig TenJRSB114040210.12100.00414029.822015NorthwesternBig TenSRSB123335510.840003335510.84CareerNorthwestern135142710.6116294.80141145610.311"
Looking back at Coach Koetter’s previous years of coaching, there was an evident use of a fullback. His fullbacks were used more as blockers and receivers rather than a runners. This plays to the strengths of Vitale, which makes the Bucs’ selection sensible. The Bucs have an obvious commitment to the run game considering that they have the NFL’s top backfield duo. This means that Vitale will be clearing the paths for both Doug Martin and Charles Sims. During Coach Koetter’s press conference after the selection, he stated that Vitale will be used as both a fullback and a tight end. I believe what Koetter means by the reference to being a tight end is that Vitale will be used in the slot and out of the backfield in the passing game, similar to what he did at Northwestern.
The believed utilization of Vitale will be much like what he did in his college role. A fullback who can both be a lead blocker and also a receiving threat could prove to be extremely vital. Another good utilization of Vitale, could be to have him as an extra blocker in the backfield on third down situations. Because of Vitale being drafted in the sixth round in front of other talented players, proves that the Buc’s believe in him and see his versatility as a key. Don’t be shocked if this rookie fullback surprises this year.
Please look back on our previous article on Dan Vitale for more information and some film from Northwestern. This will help in understanding how our rookie fullback could be used.