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Veron Butler Looks To Prove That He Can Play With Top Talent


Even though he's coming from a small school, don't count out Louisiana Tech's Vernon Butler, who is considered a first-round talent in this week's NFL Draft.

Vernon Butler is a name that not many have heard, however, it is one that people will soon become very familiar with.

"It's not about what's on your helmet or your jersey, it's about what's in your heart," Butler said. "No matter where you went to school, you can still be the top player."

Butler played four seasons at Conference USA's Louisiana Tech, where he proved to be one of the best all-around defensive linemen available in the 2016 NFL Draft.

A three-sport athlete in high school, Butler's athleticism is obvious. His long arms and strong hands allow him to blow past offensive linemen, gathering 170 tackles in 49 games played for the Bulldogs.

While his sack count left something to be desired, five sacks in four seasons at Louisiana Tech, many scouts are willing to look past that number and see the potential in his large frame.

Butler weighs in at the NFL Combine at 323 pounds at 6-foot-4, and you can't coach size, so his lack of production is not all that worrisome. 

The interior defensive lineman was named First Team All-Conference USA and First Team All-Louisiana at the conclusion of his senior season after leading LA Tech's defense.  The Bulldogs allowed an average of 119.3 yards of rushing offense per game, ranking 13th nationally and first in Conference USA.

Unfortunately for Butler, the 2016 NFL Draft is full of talent at defensive tackle, with many players coming from major programs. Louisiana Tech's head coach Skip Holtz believes that Butler has both the talent and skillset needed to be just as successful at the next level.

"I think he's got a first-round draft grade by a lot of the people that I talk to," Holtz said. "Now there may be 50 guys that have a first-round draft grade so obviously they all can't go in the first round."

Butler's performance at the Senior Bowl certainly helped his draft stock, but it also helped his confidence. Players coming from FCS teams often don't get as much exposure or play against the same type of talent as FBS teams.

"It shows you how good these defensive tackles are that are coming," Butler said. "The guys in the bigger conferences, for me to be able to play with them, it's a blessing."

After being disappointed with himself at the NFL Combine, Butler was able to rebound at his pro-day. He improved his 40 yard dash, vertical and broad jumps, further increasing his draft stock.




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