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NFL Draft Profile: Defensive tackle Matthew Butler

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Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Class: Senior

Height: 6-4

Weight: 297

40 yard dash: 5.00

Bench Press reps: 17

Vertical: 32” (T-2nd of all DTs)

Broad: 9’4” (2nd of all DTs)


Overview

After five years at Tennessee, defensive tackle Matthew Butler has exhausted his eligibility and is going pro. The Volunteers are going to miss his production on the field, but will also miss his leadership in the locker room and off the field. By all accounts, Butler was one of the most impactful personalities on the roster, and replacing that will be a big key for Josh Heupel heading into 2022.

The former three-star prospect was a reserve player in 2017 and 2018, but really emerged in 2019 as a junior. Butler opted to take advantage of his super senior season in 2021, getting to work under legendary defensive line coach Rodney Garner. The results immediately came.

Butler had his best season by far, putting up five sacks and 8.5 tackles for loss. Those were both career high totals for Butler, as the North Carolina native anchored the surprisingly productive Tennessee front.

How does Butler project to the NFL?

Butler can handle responsibilities in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts at the next level. As a senior Butler showed improvement as a pass rusher, with the new coaching staff freeing him up to attack more on stunts. He was able to shoot gaps and work around edges with his hands and flexibility to make plays in the backfield, which likely boosted his stock.

Butler doesn’t have outstanding size and lacks length, which will keep him in the mid-round conversation. However, he’s athletic enough and crafty with his hands to get off of blocks, typically finding some sort of way to impact the play. While Butler isn’t viewed as a standout run defender, his ability to shed shouldn’t take him off the field in run situations.

Overall, Butler lacks elite traits to be a top pick or to be an immediate every-down player. But my guess is that some team is going to be very happy with him as a red-hot motor third defensive tackle in the rotation.

NFL Draft Projection: Third Round