3 Dec 2020

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Vernon Butler scouting report

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 08: Carolina Panthers defensive tackle Vernon Butler (92) warms up prior to game action during a NFL preseason game between the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears on August 8, 2019 at Soldier Field, in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


4th year veteran who has played in 52 career games, starting 14 games in 2019 and a healthy scratch for 2 of them. Butler saw his first career starts in 2019, but throughout his career, has frequently played on the defense’s first series. Has played under Ron Rivera for the duration of his career in his attacking 4-3 defense before his firing around Thanksgiving, 2019. Butler aligns primarily in the 3-tech over the RG in run and pass, and, in a contract year, saw his season sack totals go from 1.5, 0, .5 and 6.


Solid AA with solid suddenness and explosiveness off the LOS. Displays solid balance when he has to flip his hips in COD vs run and pass vs pass heavy teams. Solid agility vs power run teams when he can make OL miss in tight spaces while maintaining good Gap Discipline. Consistent Get Off; looks to attack with solid and violent UOH at the point of contact. Without any consistency, he flashes solid Play Speed to get off blocks and continue pursuit up or down field to get after ball carriers with good Pursuit angles. Shows solid Play Strength and quick hands to get OL off-balance to collapse the pocket and penetrate up the middle. Solid motor and effort vs run and pass. Good agility to work thru traffic or occupy single or double teams in the passing game. Can be disruptive up the middle when he can swat OL hands or drop his pad level to drive OL back and flush QB’s out of the pocket and allow DE’s to make plays. Takes away the space for the QB to step up and deliver a throw with solid Competitive Toughness and aggression to neutralize LOS when doubled. Solid consistency in his overall play from the 3 Technique and someone that can be trusted to absorb doubles and put teammates in position to win advantageous matchups. Solid neutralizing blocks at the POA. Uses thick base to maintain gap discipline and take away running lanes with solid UOH to keep from being driven back off the LOS against less-physical Offensive Lines. Solid body lean in his pass rush with solid PR plan. Solid counter moves with spins and being able to flip his hips to get skinny to split double teams and being able to bend around single teams thru A and B Gaps with solid close on the QB. Doesn’t leave his feet but takes away throwing lanes closing with his hands in the QB’s vision. Solid job in Stunts and Twists. Good moving laterally; keeps his balance and OL off him with UOH and not getting hung-up hand fighting to maintain solid timing and sticks to his PR plan where his pursuit and athleticism allow him to make plays on the ball carrier behind the LOS.


Struggles to find the ball on misdirection plays. Can get tunnel vision and lose sight of where the ball carrier is. Marginal awareness of where OL are. Leaves himself open to blocks he doesn’t see coming that eliminate him from plays. Adequate Play Speed from play-to-play from outside 3 Technique. Needs to demonstrate the quickness he plays with inside when he’s lined up outside Guards. Adequate Play Strength in his other PR moves. Needs to develop a power move rather than the finesse hand fighting and more pop to his initial blow. It’s also where his ability to play with leverage becomes adequate. He relies too heavily on his quickness and hand fighting. Adequate job of being consistently disruptive in the Run Game where he is needed to do more than just neutralize the LOS. The lack of Power Moves and Pad Level become a problem because he sees a lot of double teams playing the 3 Technique, and against Power Run teams, he can get washed out of plays. Small array of PR moves with poor Bend around C Gap. When UOH prove ineffective and needs to go to a power move rather than occupying OL and filling Gaps. Pad Level can become a problem on Stunts and Twists mixed with lack of awareness leave him susceptible to pancake blocks when he rushes outside of the B Gap. His Pad Level, mixed with finesse style of play give him adequate force behind initial blow and hinder his ability to take consistent advantage of opportunist 1-on-1’s.


Butler’s value, in my opinion, is entirely based on how a team’s GM and coach value his position. He’s a guy that can work through multiple gaps, maintain gap discipline, and occasionally occupy multiple OL to allow teammates to run free. He isn’t an Aaron Donald type who you can count on to rack up double-digit sack seasons, but he can be trusted to win the LOS, get penetration up the middle and take away throwing and running lanes. That has a lot of value to me, and is something teams don’t have to pay a premium to acquire. The biggest red flag are the sack totals in a contract year. He could be a guy who’s motivated by the money, and once he gets it you get a different player. I’d project Butler could be a rotational DT, a starter on some teams and command somewhere between $3M-$4M. He’s been healthy, productive when he’s had the chance to start, and is only 25.

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