2016 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Vernon Butler

  • Vernon Butler, 6-3/323

  • Defensive Tackle

  • Louisiana Tech

  • Vernon Butler Scouting Report
    By Charlie Campbell

  • Unique athletic skill set
  • Fast interior defender
  • Strong at the point of attack
  • Can bull over offensive linemen
  • Speed to close
  • Powerful bull rush
  • Tough run defender
  • Hard to move at the point of attack
  • Athletic for his size
  • Ability to shed blocks
  • Gap sound
  • Carries weight well
  • Versatile
  • Has experience lining up at a variety of spots
  • Successful against good Senior Bowl competition
  • Ready to contribute
  • Good off the field

  • Weaknesses:
  • Raw; needs development
  • Should continue to work on pass-rushing moves
  • Has to maintain good pad level
  • Gets in trouble when he plays too high
  • Will have to work to maintain conditioning

  • Summary: The Louisiana Tech program has really risen over the past few years and is now producing some quality NFL talent. Perhaps the best prospect Louisiana Tech has produced recently is Butler. He is a strong, quick athletic defensive tackle who has a ton of upside to develop in the NFL.

    Over the past two seasons, Butler put together quality production for Louisiana Tech. As a junior, he totaled 55 tackles with 13 for a loss and one sack. Butler was even better as a senior with 50 tackles with 10 tackles for a loss and three sacks. His impressive year earned him an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he continued to improve his draft standing with a good week. Butler has a burst at the point of attack, and his speed rush was very hard for offensive linemen to contain. He had a strong showing in the pass-rushing one-on-ones and showed improvement throughout the week.

    In the pass rush, Butler has the quickness to fire his gap. He uses strength to shed blocks and can close quickly on the quarterback. Butler just has to get more consistent and polished. He has natural strength and a thick base to generate power into the pocket with a bull rush.

    Butler is tough as a run defender. He fills his gap and is very hard to move at the line of scrimmage. Butler eats up his block and prevents holes from opening up. As a nose tackle, Butler should immediately be a contributor in the NFL. He gets in trouble when he doesn’t maintain his bend and pad level. When Butler stands up high, offensive linemen can get under his pads and push him out of his gap. Those plays were ugly for Butler as it opened up a huge hole in the middle. At 6-foot-3, that is something Butler is going to have to be cognizant of not letting be sloppy when he wears down.

    In speaking with sources, they say that Butler has a ton of natural talent, but he needs development and doesn’t know what he’s doing yet. They like his size, strength, quickness and athleticism. Teams feel that Butler has a ton of upside.

    In the 2016 NFL Draft, Butler could hear his name called in the first round. Some teams grade him in the second round because he’s raw, but this draft doesn’t have 32 players graded as first-round picks, so teams believe that Butler could go on Thursday night.

    Player Comparison: Nick Fairley. Fairley has been a good player when motivated. He can be a stout run defender and contributes as a pass-rusher. Like Fairley, Butler has a ton of natural talent. They are similar size and athletic. Fairley was a mid-first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and Butler could go as high as the middle of Round 1 to early in Round 2.

    NFL Matches: Buffalo, Washington, Houston, Cincinnati, Green Bay, Arizona, Seattle, Denver, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit and New Orleans

    There are a lot of options for Butler in the first or second round. Kyle Williams is aging for Buffalo, and the Bills could easily address their front seven this offseason. Butler could form a special tandem with Marcel Dareus.

    Late in the first round, Cincinnati could be a fit as the team could use another tackle to complement Geno Atkins. Brandon Thompson and Devon Still didn’t turn into starters, while Domata Peko is aging and declining. Butler would be perfect for the Bengals.

    Butler could also be in play for the Cardinals. They have to replace Darnell Dockett and Dan Williams. Arizona wants to improve its defensive front this offseason as well. Butler could form a nice duo with Calais Campbell. Seattle could use an interior disruptor, too. Brandon Mebane left in free agency, and the Seahawks have experienced problems with a lack of interior pass rush once injuries have hit their defense.

    The Redskins want to get younger and more athletic up front. Butler could be a nose tackle in their 3-4 or 4-3 sets while also having enough speed and athleticism to play some three-technique for Joe Barry.

    Green Bay has to replace B.J. Raji, and Butler could be in play for the Packers as an upgrade at nose tackle.

    Denver locked up Derek Wolfe, but lost Malik Jackson. Sources say the Broncos will be looking hard at defensive line talent in the first round. Butler could be a fit for the Super Bowl champions.

    If he slips to the second round, Butler could be an option for Baltimore. The Ravens cut Chris Canty recently and lost Haloti Ngata last offseason.

    The Saints have to upgrade their defense, especially against the pass. Butler would give them an interior presence to go with Nick Fairley.

    The Lions badly need to upgrade their defensive tackles. Butler would give them an interior defender to pressure the quarterback and could be a nice defender to pair with Ziggy Ansah. Detroit has shown a lot of interest in Butler.


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