With the knowledge that the Nebraska Cornhuskers would be thin in the starting role at Defensive Tackle after the declaration of Maliek Collins, Vincent Valentine would have been the Senior leader on the crew. However, on January 11th, Valentine decided that he's ready right now and declared for the NFL Draft.
Valentine, who has already gotten his degree in Journalism after his 4 years in Lincoln, so he's prepared for life after Football as well.
Valentine was the 13th best player out of the state of Illinois in the 2012 recruiting cycle, and the 37th best Defensive Tackle in the cycle as well. Before committing to the Huskers, Valentine had interest from Illinois and Florida, among other schools in his nearly 20 offers recorded. Former Nebraska DC John Papuchis was his main contact.
Valentine redshirted his Freshman year, and in his RS Fr. year played in all 13 games, starting in 6 of them. He would go on to start 24 of the 36 games he played in Lincoln, but he was nailed by injuries at times through his career as well.
Like his counterpart Collins, Valentine seemed to peak in the '14 season under Defensive Line coach Rich Kaczenski, and regress when Hank Hughes was hired. VV's big year was his RS Sophomore year, when he recorded 45 total tackles, 7 of those tackles for loss. He had 3 sacks in both his Sophomore and Junior years, but his tackle number regressed his Junior year.
Like Collins as well, Valentine seemed to struggle with Hughes and Defensive Coordinator Mark Banker's use of the DL in their scheme. Valentine was surprised that Hughes was replaced, and one wonders if he would still be in Lincoln had new DL coach John Parrella was installed before he declared.
The honors for Valentine do not match Collins much at all:
" Honorable-Mention Big Ten All-Freshman Team (BTN, 2013)
" Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll (Spring 2013)
Valentine's NFL Scouting Combine Results:
40 Yard Dash: 5.19 seconds
Bench Press: 17 reps
Vertical Jump: 29 inches
Broad Jump: 110 inches
3 Cone Drill: 8.03 seconds
20 Yard Shuttle: 4.59 seconds
STRENGTHS Burly calves and and thick legs that look like sacks of grain. Proper study requires viewing of 2014 tape when he was healthy. Can sit down and live in his space. Has power to thrash undersized centers right out of the picture. Able to eat up double teams and roadblock his run fit when he's on his game. Reactive quickness to turn and snap onto running backs attempting to dart past him. Finished with more career sacks than teammate Maliek Collins.
WEAKNESSES Carries excessive weight in the middle and lacks desired lean muscle mass for his frame. Could get more from his power with proper hand usage. Scouts question effort level in 2015. Slammed by insiders for a lack of conditioning and practice habits. Missed extensive time due to high ankle sprain.
DRAFT PROJECTION Rounds 6 or 7
NFL COMPARISON Darius Kilgo
BOTTOM LINE His draft grade will likely be higher than his 2015 tape would indicate due to a high ankle sprain that limited his overall play and production. Valentine needs to carry more "good weight" and commit to the work that has to be done leading up to the game. If he can do those things, he has enough power and ability to become a backup nose with eventual starter potential.