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Analyzing the NFL homes of Northwestern’s latest draft picks and signees

Analyzing the NFL homes of Northwestern’s latest draft picks and signees
(Daily file photo by Nathan Richards)

Defensive end Dean Lowry and superback Dan Vitale on Saturday became the latest Northwestern football players to be drafted, and joining them in the pro ranks as undrafted free agents are defensive end Deonte Gibson and safety Traveon Henry.

With the dust settled on the NFL’s rookie class, we can take a closer look at which Wildcats have a chance to be contributing performers for their new teams.

Lowry, selected in the fourth round by the Green Bay Packers, seems to have landed in an ideal situation. The Packers are a stable organization, and as a fourth round pick Lowry is very likely to make the cut for the 53-man roster. Green Bay also only has two true defensive ends currently on the team, meaning Lowry should have an early chance at cracking the defensive line rotation and seeing some playing time outside of special teams.

Vitale, drafted in the sixth round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is much more likely to make an impact on special teams than he is on the offensive side of the ball. The Buccaneers list him at fullback, and being able to play special teams is a big part of the job description for the few fullbacks left in the NFL. Special teams play was also a big part of Vitale’s pitch to teams during the pre-draft process. If he does see the field on offense, it will most likely be whenever Tampa Bay decides it needs an extra blocker out of the backfield.

Gibson and Henry have much more tenuous futures in the NFL as undrafted free agents, as making the 53-man cut is far from guaranteed.

The Detroit Lions, who signed Gibson, drafted two other defensive linemen this year and currently list another 11 on their roster. It simply isn’t likely there will be a spot left for Gibson come the end of August. The same goes for Henry, who will have to climb past four safeties and eight cornerbacks on the Buccaneers’ roster.

It’s possible, but Gibson and Henry will each need a very impressive training camp — along the willingness to play special teams — in order to stick around.

Morning Roundup: May 2, 2016

Morning Roundup: May 2, 2016
(Daily file photo by Nathan Richards)

Northwestern sports had a busy weekend. Let’s catch you up to speed…

  • Two Wildcats were drafted by NFL teams on Saturday. Dean Lowry was taken by the Green Bay Packers and Dan Vitale was selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
  • Additionally, Deonte Gibson and Traveon Henry each signed as undrafted free agents, Gibson with the Detroit Lions and Henry with the Buccaneers.
  • Per coach Pat Fitzgerald on Twitter, wide receiver Miles Shuler and quarterback Zack Oliver were each invited to tryouts with NFL teams as well. Shuler will work out with the New York Giants while Oliver will get a shot with Washington.
  • Dan Waldman recapped a crucial win for the lacrosse, keeping the team eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
  • Benjy Apelbaum reviews a disappointing Big Ten Tournament loss for the men’s tennis team.
  • Mike Marut discusses the women’s tennis team falling in the Big Ten Tournament as well.
  • Bites from the weekend: Dean Lowry reacts to being drafted, Luke Donald visits Evanston, Selena Lasota notches hat trick

And here’s a look at Monday’s back page:

52 back

ICYMI: Two Wildcats drafted by NFL teams, two sign free agent deals

ICYMI: Two Wildcats drafted by NFL teams, two sign free agent deals
(Daily file photo by Jacob Swan)

The final four rounds of the NFL Draft took place Saturday afternoon, and two Wildcats heard their names called. Defensive end Dean Lowry was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the 4th round and superback Dan Vitale was taken by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 6th round as a fullback.

Additionally, defensive lineman Deonte Gibson and safety Traveon Henry each signed contracts as undrafted free agents following the completion of the draft. Gibson signed with the Detroit Lions and Henry inked a deal with the Buccaneers.

There is still time for other Wildcats to sign with NFL teams and defensive back Nick VanHoose is expected to sign somewhere, although the timing of a potential deal is not known.

Dean Lowry drafted by the Green Bay Packers

Dean Lowry drafted by the Green Bay Packers
(Daily file photo by Nathan Richards)

Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 4th round of the NFL Draft on Saturday. The Packers selected him at 137th overall.

At 6-foot-6 and 296 pounds, Lowry appeared in all 13 games during his senior campaign in 2015, registering 31 solo tackles and 3 sacks. He also set a career-high with 13.5 tackles for loss last season and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors.

At the NFL scouting combine, Lowry impressed with 30 bench press reps of 225 pounds, fifth-most for all defensive lineman and a 4.81 second 40-yard dash.

Lowry joins a Green Bay squad that lost in the NFC Divisional Round to the Arizona Cardinals. He will sit behind defensive ends Letroy Guion and Datone Jones on the depth chart.