The New England Patriots did plenty of roster shuffling yesterday, as they released three players in 27-year-old wide receiver Lavelle Hawkins, Northern Illinois UDFA WR Perez Ashford, and top guard backup Nick McDonald. The new man coming into the Patriots roster? A former Rutgers Scarlet Knights player in 23-year-old UDFA defensive tackle Scott Vallone, and it really is no surprise that he is the next Rutgers guy on the roster. I mean, a Rutgers UDFA signing with the Patriots is never a surprise; it’s the norm these days. In fact, the Patriots have six Rutgers rookies on the roster right now, and they have nine players on the roster who are from Steve Belichick’s alma matter.
Vallone is a 6’2″, 281 pound DT who had a nice four-year career at Rutgers where he had 12 tackles for loss last season. A very productive four-year college career is something that gives Vallone a nice track record, and he was a force for the Scarlet Knights up the middle disrupting play after play. Vallone also had 52 tackles and three sacks last season.
At his Pro Day at Rutgers, Vallone posted a 5.09 forty time, and that gives you an idea of how he lacks the tools. Vallone makes up for his lack of quickness, strength, and athleticism (all the important stuff) with his high motor, and he looks like a guy who could make the Patriots practice squad. There’s some room to work with at defensive tackle, but the position is filled with young guys chomping at the bit at the back end of the roster. UDFA Joe Vellano has impressed, and second-year DT Marcus Forston is also making rounds and is somebody I am taking more seriously. Cory Grissom is the guy I tabbed for a roster spot initially, because the former USF star is somebody who really should have been drafted. But Grissom hasn’t gotten onto the field, so that’s something to be aware of (his status has not been updated).
Vallone had excellent numbers in college as a DT at Rutgers, and he is an intriguing prospect. Like most Rutgers players, Vallone is the classic “Do your job” player, and that has to be endearing to Bill Belichick. But while Vallone tries hard, has productivity, and could end up being something after development on the practice squad, Vallone currently lacks the tools across the board whether it be speed, quickness off the line, agility, strength, or athleticism. Â But again, Vallone does make up for that stuff with an amazing motor and a vast arsenal of pass rushing moves, so there is something intriguing about him. He was able to be a very productive interior pass rusher at Rutgers despite lacking the tools, and he’s a great camp body for the Patriots to bring in. I like the addition of Vallone, and we’ll see if his mojo can translate to the NFL.
At the end of the day, he’s definitely not going to make the roster and will most likely miss out on the practice squad as well. But late UDFAs are always camp bodies, and Vallone is somebody who is clearly at least worth trotting out there.