Per ProFootballTalk, the Buffalo Bills have claimed former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Dan Vitale on waivers:
Bills claimed RB Dan Vitale (Buccaneers).— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 4, 2016
Vitale, 21, was a sixth-round pick (194th overall) by the Buccos in the draft this year, but was released on Tuesday as part of the cutdown from 75 to 53 players.
The Northwestern product is considered a great example of an H-back: someone who can line up as a fullback or split out and play tight end. He isn’t a top-notch talent in either regard, hence his release, but carries the kind of versatility that this coaching staff loves.
Vitale is also a plus athlete, something that has to appeal to Buffalo’s scouting staff. Whether you grade him as a fullback, a tight end, or a running back, he has elite measurables in every athletic category.
WGR’s Sal Capaccio pulled this off of Vitale’s CFB page:
Vitale had some decent receiving stats at Northwestern as a FB/TE hybrid: pic.twitter.com/hxqzbm0TfN— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) September 4, 2016
(If you don’t have a calculator, that’s 135 catches for 1,427 yards and 11 touchdowns)
Of course, if you swap out “Northwestern” for “Kansas State”, you’d realize that the team already has a player that fits this mold on the roster. Indeed, signing a player of Vitale’s profile doesn’t bode well for Glenn Gronkowski, a surprise addition to the main roster and someone with practice squad eligibility. While it’s possible that someone else on the back end of the 53 will move in his place, such as Nick O’Leary or one of the six safeties, the most obvious candidate for demotion is the one with the exact same skill set.
Update: The Bills threw us something of a curveball:
#Bills released LB Jamari Lattimore to make room for the claimed FB Dan Vitale— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) September 4, 2016
Lattimore earned a spot on the roster after a strong showing against the Lions in the preseason finale, but the recent additions of Ramon Humber (who earned raves from Rex for his quick grasping of the playbook) and Lerentee McCray made him expendable.
Also of note: Vitale is listed as a tight end on the team’s roster page, and will be wearing jersey number 86. While he can line up all over the place, that gives quite a bit of insight as to what his primary role in the offense will be.