It's hard for a 6-4, 323-pound defensive tackle to get lost in the shuffle, but that has been the case with Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler. A first-team All-Conference USA selection as a senior, Butler recorded 170 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss and five sacks during his four-year career. However, Butler was in the background with electrifying running back Kenneth Dixon and quarterback Jeff Driskel also on campus.
Defensive tackle is arguably the deepest position in this year's draft. Butler went to a smaller school and did not post great numbers at the Combine, but he was a standout performer at the Senior Bowl. According to Skip Holtz, Butler's head coach at Louisiana Tech, the two-year starter played multiple positions along the line. That versatility, along with his size and 35-plus-inch arms, will make him a potential candidate to play nose tackle or the 3-technique in the NFL.
By all reports, Butler has no character issues and is only 21 years old.
"I think his best football's ahead of him," Holtz told The Advocate.
He is certainly on the radar of a number of analysts. Josh Norris of Rotoworld ranked Butler as the No. 12 overall prospect in this year's draft class. Longtime NFL executive and current NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt called Butler one of his 10 most underrated players.
Butler may finally take center stage at the NFL Draft in Chicago as he was invited by the league and will attend, according to The News Star.
Scouting Report From NFL.com
"Athletic interior lineman with long arms and outstanding athleticism that allows him to work on offensive linemen with a combination of power and quickness. Butler has a raw but diverse skill set as a pass rusher that should excite NFL evaluators who see the potential of what he can be with more coaching and experience. With his effort and defensive ball awareness, his ceiling appears to be high with a chance to become a high-level starter for an odd or even front defense." - Lance Zierlein
What He Said
"I feel like I'm the best D-tackle in the draft. Why? Because of what I can bring to the game in terms of my athleticism, my strength, my versatility. I played every position on the D-line." - Defensive tackle Vernon Butler on how he compares to the other interior defensive linemen in the NFL Draft