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2016 NFL Draft: Player Profiles – Vernon Butler

Defensive Lineman, Louisiana Tech6ft 4 - 323 lbs40-Yard Dash


Defensive Lineman, Louisiana Tech 6ft 4 – 323 lbs

40-Yard Dash: 5.19 sec (1.82 split)Bench Press: 26 reps
Vertical Jump: 33.5”3-Cone Drill: 7.82 sec
Broad Jump: 9ft 320-Yard Shuttle: 4.76 sec

  After a strong junior season, Butler strongly considered adding his name into the 2015 NFL draft this time last year.  Despite this being an exceptionally deep class for defensive linemen, in particularly at the top, it was still a wise decision for him to wait until now.  After being a backup for his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, that 2014 year was his first as a starter; now he has two productive years of experience and good film under his belt and likely goes higher than he would have 12 months ago.  He put up 105 tackles, 23 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 3 pass breakups and a forced fumble over his two years as a starter. The physical measurables are exactly how you would draw up an interior defensive lineman.  Not only does he have a wide, heavy build, but also long arms and big hands that he can use to his advantage in the first phase of play engaging contact with opposing offensive linemen.  He’s certainly not simply some space eater by any means though.  Butler has power, as he proved time and again, including at this year’s Senior Bowl.  During that week in Mobile, and despite all the talent on show at his position alone, Butler stood out immediately and throughout the week of practices.  He made one of the plays of the game that followed as well, “rag-dolling” a strong center in Missouri’s Evan Boehm out the way and finishing by flattening the QB.  He’s an athlete too.  Butler regularly catches offenses off guard in two aspects, with his leaping ability to get up and deflect the pass, and with surprising wheels and movement in space to chase in pursuit, contributing to his good tackle numbers for an interior lineman.  Despite his abilities, and the solid number of plays in the backfield, he’s only compiled the 5 sacks over his career, which is surprising given the skill set on offer.  Though he can make highlight plays such as the afore-mentioned one at the Senior Bowl, he lets himself down at times with inconsistency in his form.  Butler needs to work on his pad level and leverage in a way that he can repeat play after play to make the most out his power and length.  In college, and by playing in the relatively lower quality of Conference-USA, he’s been able to get away with that inconsistency through his natural power and strength, but to continue to be effective at the next level, he needs to sharpen his technique and body position, then replicate it each snap. There’s all the foundation traits looked for to work with though, and he is frequently compared to Mohammed Wilkerson, which makes a lot of sense in terms of the physical traits and skill set, and sets a high bar in terms of upside.  If the man who ended up drafting Wilkerson to the Jets sees the same things, then he may be the one to take Butler, that being Rex Ryan, now with the Bills and selecting at #19.  The Bills are one of many teams who have had him in for a private workout, along with the Bengals, Buccaneers, Lions, Panthers, Patriots, Raiders, Seahawks and Titans.  He’ll be in play anywhere from the mid-teens in round one, but due to the sheer depth at the defensive line position in this class, the circumstances may just result in Butler still being available at the top of round 2.  If so, someone is getting a steal.

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Rebecca Rennie

Hello all, I'm Rebecca, also going by Bex, and I am the RealSport College Football Editor, as well as writer and NFL Draft analyst.  I also edit other sports including the CFL, cycling and golf, while occasionally contributing to the NFL section as well.  I'm a fan of most sports and enjoy discussing with fellow fans, so do please comment on articles and interact.  A big fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and of the Central Florida Knights in college.

2016 NFL Draft: Player Profiles – Vernon Butler

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