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Ranking the former Northwestern NFL rookies’ chances to make rosters

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Wisconsin v Northwestern Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

After taking a look at the former Northwestern Wildcat NFL veterans around the league yesterday, we move on to the rookies. While six players earned some sort of tryout or deal, only four (Deonte Gibson, Miles Shuler, Dean Lowry and Dan Vitale) enter training camp on an NFL roster.

4. Miles Shuler

Shuler faces the most uphill of battles among his fellow former Wildcat rookies. A speedy slot guy, Shuler’s best shot at the next level would be as a punt returner, though the Panthers have several other options who can contribute in the passing game, including last year’s leading wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. Shuler was never especially adept on the offensive side of things while in Evanston, and his prospects as a pro likely lie somewhere other than the NFL.

3. Deonte Gibson

Gibson was one of the highest-priority undrafted rookie free agents, and he’ll have a solid shot to make either the roster or the practice squad. Gibson is officially listed at defensive end for the Lions, which run a 4-3 defense like Northwestern does. Behind star Ziggy Ansah, the other defensive end starter and the unit’s depth as a whole is very much up in the air. If he makes a good impression, Gibson should have a chance to stick in Detroit.

2. Dan Vitale

Vitale is wearing No. 86 for the Bucs, indicating he will play more of a tight end role than a fullback role in he city where he played his final collegiate game. The Buccaneers have a decent number of tight ends, numbers-wise, but Vitale offers the versatility that NFL executives covet, so he should have a very good shot at making the roster.

While he’s worked mainly with backups thus far, he’s performed well.

1. Dean Lowry

Lowry should see a big role relatively quickly with veteran Mike Pennell suspended for the first four games of the season. Lowry and Datone Jones are the only two players officially listed at defensive end on the Packers’ roster, though Dom Capers will rotate a variety of player packages. He’s the tallest defensive lineman on the team, and his pass-rushing ability from a 3-4 end spot could be very helpful. Back in May, we broke down exactly how Lowry could be used in Green Bay.

Meanwhile, the former Wildcat seems to be fitting in quite nicely as training camp has gotten underway, taking part in the Packers’ tradition of riding bikes to the opening day of training camp.

We will continue to check in on all the former Wildcats throughout the NFL preseason as roster cuts and the regular season near.