NFL Draft: Will the (Vernon) Butler do it for Redskins

Sports Illustrated's Peter King joined the chorus of mock drafters sending a defensive tackle to the Redskins, but the name is new.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King released his NFL mock draft ahead of the round on on Thursday. As many others have done, he projects the Washington Redskins will use the 21st selection for a defensive tackle. It's the specific choice that's different, though intriguing.

It's not Jarran Reed or A'Shawn Robinson or Andrew Billings. Instead, King has the Redskins selecting Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech.

"A developmental prospect, and a very big man (6-3½, 323) with the ability not just to stuff the run but to power his way into the backfield, and more athletic than he first appears—he runs a 5.15 time in the 40. Some will say GM Scot McCloughan is reaching here. McCloughan would say: I don’t care what you think."

Breaking Burgundy's film analyst Paul Connor ranked Butler tops among 3-4 nose tackles in the entire draft. Another BB writer, Justin Byram, also is to a big fan of the big man.

McCloughan previously hinted there is a specific prospect he likes above all with the 21st pick in mind, though stated he wasn't sure if the player would be available. Few if any national mock drafts have Butler any higher than 21. 

The GM pulled back on the idea of one player standing out above all when he met with the media Monday afternoon at Redskins Park.

“Hopefully we’ve got a couple of them," McCloughan joked. "But yeah, it’s a strong draft, it really is on both sides of the ball. Of course I’m not going to say names or anything like that. My personal opinion, there will be a handful of guys in the first round."

With Terrance Knighton signing with New England, there is an obvious need in the middle of Washington's defense that Butler could step in to full.

In the mock draft, King has the Redskins passing on the likes of CB Mackensie Alexander, ILB Reggie Ragland, WR Laquon Treadwell, DT Jarran Reed, and S Karl Joseph. All of these players have been linked to the Burgundy and Gold in past mock drafts by experts that feature a variety of options.

With the blockbuster Josh Norman signing, selecting Alexander makes little sense. Ragland and Treadwell are both options the Redskins could use in a rotation, while Reed and Joseph would be penciled in as potential Week 1 starters because of the need at defensive line and safety.

Defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins (12), A'Shawn Robinson (16), and Robert Nkemdiche (19) are off the board before the Redskins select in King's mock.

McCloughan's first season with Washington plus his overall track record earns him plenty benefit of doubt when it comes to the draft. Heads will surely shake up and down rather than side to side if the call at 21 is a defensive lineman. Clearly many would be just fine if McCloughan''s beautiful mind took a liking to the big kid from Louisiana Tech.

Follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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