With the 30th pick in the NFL draft the Carolina Panthers have selected Louisiana Tech defensive tackle, Vernon Butler. The immediate fan reaction from what I could tell was split down the middle. One side backing the pick, understanding the best player available route while the other side is confused to why we selected a defensive tackle with clear needs at other positions.
However, it should be no surprise that the Panthers brain trust ended up going defensive tackle. It was one of the deepest positions in the draft, and arguably the best it has been in years. It is more than likely a lot of the big guys were sitting at the top of Carolina’s draft board. General Manager Dave Gettleman said in his press conference that they were really shocked to see him still available when the Panthers were picking. It was a no-brainer in their eyes.
Butler will add talented, versatile depth to the Panthers defensive line. Entering college as only a 2 star recruit, Butler has transformed himself into a first round draft pick. Standing at 6’4 323 pounds, Butler has an absolutely massive frame and the rare ability to add versatility to it.
Butler has shown that he has the ability to play every spot on the defensive line which will prove to be very beneficial to this Carolina team. Butler made his name at pass rushing and causing major disruptions in the backfield during his collegiate campaign. While his stats aren’t the flashiest, he has improved each year and the effort he shows on the field trumps almost all other players.
With the Panthers already having exceptional talent at the starting defensive tackle spots in 2nd team All-Pro Kawann Short and running mate Star Lotulelei, who has more than held his own during his time in the NFL. Butler won’t be looked at to be an immediate starter and make a major impact as soon as he steps on the field. But he will add versatile talent to the Panthers defensive line rotation as he continues to grow and learn the system.
Many fans after the release of cornerback Josh Norman, were confused to why a cornerback wasn’t selected with the first pick. Having exceptional talent on the defensive line, like Butler, who have the ability to pressure the opposing quarterback will make any cornerbacks job that much easier.