Vernon Butler NFL Draft 2016

2016 Scouting Report: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech

Vernon Butler was a two-star recruit from North Pike HS in Summit, Mississippi. Butler was recruited by Mississippi and Mississippi State, but decided to play for Louisiana Tech instead. He was a back-up in his freshman and sophomore seasons, but finally became a full time starter as a junior. He enters the 2016 NFL Draft as a potential late first round draft pick.



DOB June 14, 1994 Bench (225 lbs) 26
Height 6’4” Vertical Jump 29.5″
Weight 323 lbs Broad Jump 8’8″
Arms 35.125 in 20 Yard Shuttle 4.76 sec
Hands 10.75 in 3 Cone Drill 7.82 sec
40 Yard Dash (10 yd split) 5.33 sec (1.83 sec) 60 Yard Shuttle DNP


Stats and Awards

Louisiana Tech University (2012-2015)
2015 – 50 tackles (10.0 for loss), 3.0 sacks, 2 PDs First Team All-Conference USA, First Team All-Louisiana
2014 – 53 tackles (13.0 for loss), 1.0 sack, 1 PD, 1 FF
2013 – 43 tackles (4.5 for loss), 1.0 sack
2012 – 21 tackles (1.5 for loss)


Scouting Report

  • Thick, proportional frame with very long arms (35+ in)
  • Played all over defensive line as 1-tech, 3-tech or 5-tech depending on scheme
  • Played against very poor competition in Conference-USA
  • Moves very well with a good burst off line of scrimmage for a 325 lb DL.
  • Relied too heavily on upper body strength.
  • Pad height is awful. Stands straight up too frequently losing leverage.
  • Susceptible to cut blocks due to pad height. Needs to stay low.
  • Generally good effort. Willing to chase ball carrier and gangtackle.
  • Doesn’t keep his feet driving at the blocker. Stalls after initial jump off line of scrimmage.
  • Needs to finish plays. Missed tackles in the backfield.
  • Strong bull rush using long arms to create leverage and power.
  • Used swim move sparingly. Needs to develop a rip move.
  • Plays with wasted energy in his pass rush with little production to show. Needs counter moves.
  • Good job of getting hands up in pass rush to block throwing lanes.
  • Keeps feet moving down line of scrimmage on stretch plays, but doesn’t turn shoulders square to the LOS.
  • Understands one arm is longer than two concept in pass rush.
  • Defensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech misused his abilities to fit his scheme.
  • Butler was used as a standup inside linebacker on 3rd downs to pass rush. He was used as an edge looper on stunts, and even dropped into underneath zone coverage.
  • Enjoyed huge rise in draft stock during Senior Bowl showing one-on-one dominance.

    Film Study

    Vernon Butler is an ideal sized defensive lineman standing at 6’4″ 325 lbs with 35 inch arms. Using his burst between the tackles and length, his best fit is one-gapping in the NFL.

    The first issue I saw with Vernon Butler is that there was way too many missed opportunities, especially against weaker competition.

    In this first play versus Western Kentucky, Butler lines up as a 3-tech shading the outside shoulder of the right guard. The guard pulls to lead block for the running back, and the center down blocks to fill his gap. The center steps too far forward allowing Vernon Butler to slip past him. An ideal opportunity for Butler.

    The running back fakes outside, then cuts underneath Butler’s outstretched arms to fight for an extra couple of yards. This should have been a four yard loss, but it’s only a loss of two.

    In the New Orleans Bowl game, Butler had two missed tackles against Arkansas State. The first was on a Counter Of from shotgun. Vernon Butler lines up as a 4i-tech defensive end. The right tackle (#72) forces him inside, but Butler shifts back outside. Good move.

    The running back lowers his shoulder and Butler can’t finish the tackle spinning away from him like a top. It’s possible that #72 pulled him down from behind, which could explain the dramatic spin to the ground, but from this angle it’s inconclusive.

    As a side note, watch #19 in the backfield as he attempts to block #24 of the defense. He lowers his head and flattens his back with absolutely zero hip flexibility to attempt this block. This is how you get injured. Absolutely terrible blocking form and I hope his coach saw this too.

    The second missed tackle of the game was on a zone stretch to the right. The right guard assumes the center will pick up Butler and disengages, but the center thinks the opposite. A clear miscommunication with neither picking up Butler.

    Butler’s angle into the backfield is too sharp so he is forced to turn his body towards the sideline mid-tackle. He dives at the legs of the running back and misses, but #2 sets the edge perfectly finishing the tackle for him.

    Obviously, Butler didn’t miss every open opportunity. The following play shows Butler’s burst off the line of scrimmage. The right guard disengages leaving the right tackle with an impossible block. Butler makes the most of it and is able to pull the running back down for a tackle-for-loss.

    Article continues on the next page with his pass rush.

    Samuel Gold

    Sam founded NFL Breakdowns after working his way through the journalist farm system and is enjoying life in the big league. Growing up outside of Washington, D.C., Sam didn’t choose the Redskins, the Redskins chose him. Out of a love for the game and an insatiable curiosity to determine why his beloved team was underperforming, Sam turned to studying film in NFL Breakdowns.