NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
First, apologies to James Christensen, but I have to get my digs in on the Hawkeyes when I can. We finish up the Day 2 of the draft portion of the post draft series with a look at Vincent Valentine. This pick was the low point for me in the draft. I was still trying to pick my jaw up off the ground from the Brissett pick when I heard the selection. Sure, I got the position right, but certainly not the player. In the pre draft process, I was not a big fan of Valentine’s. Now that I have had a chance to watch more tape and do a more thorough investigation, my stance on this being a horrible pick has lessened, at least a little bit. Here are my full thoughts on Valentine.
Valentine certainly looks the part of a space eating nose tackle or one technique. With the additions and subtractions the team has made along the defensive line, he seems to fit the mold the Patriots are now looking for. He shows good lower body burst and upfield speed for a guy his size. He has long arms and plays with good football strength, showing the ability to handle double teams. He is not going to wow you with his stats, but his percentage of tackles for loss and sacks to tackles is really good. He has an impressive combination of size and athleticism.
Now, the big problem with Valentine is his motor. My initial notes for Valentine were all based on 2015 games and a majority of them were not great. He would flash here and there, but it was just too inconsistent to give him anything better than a late day 3 grade. After reading that he dealt with an ankle issue all year, I went back and watched some 2014 games and you saw a more consistent player with not near the concern with motor as his 2015 tape showed. Maybe the ankle forced him the inconsistency issues, but I have my doubts. When he is giving full effort, he flashes the ability to be a big bodied guy who can stop the run and give the team a little bit of interior disruption. When he is not giving full effort, he is a guy who is moved around way too easy. His fundamentals go out the door and he plays too high. His hand technique is all over the place. It is out of control and at times he can completely miss his target. Valentine needs to become more consistent in every facet of his game if he is going to have a shot at being a contributor.
I still do not get this pick. For a team that has created a culture through guys who contribute because of hard work and determination rather than relying on their natural gifts, this pick just does not fit. Then you add to the fact the Patriots used a top 100 pick on an underachiever leaves me scratching my head. That being said, it sounds like NFL teams and scouts were higher on Valentine than the outside draft community. Now, I know that Valentine does possess some rare physical and and athletic traits, and I am sure the team has the confidence that they can get this guy to play up to his athletic gifts, but I have my doubts. The one good thing is that the Patriots will not have to rely on Valentine to be a contributor this year and hopefully the veterans in that locker room can show him how to be a professional. When this pick was made, I absolutely hated it and now that I have had some time to read up on Valentine and watch more tape, I find myself only disliking the pick greatly, which is a step in the right direction. Valentine has a lot to prove to me personally, and I certainly hope he does.