2022 NFL Draft prospect profile: Matthew Butler, iDL, Tennessee
Some prospects begin the process leading to the NFL Draft with a high profile and a lot of momentum. But others should take advantage of the opportunities presented throughout the process to make themselves known.
Tennessee defensive tackle Matthew Butler has the opportunity to do so during the 2022 NFL Draft. Butler was a largely unknown redshirt senior on the Volunteers defensive line prior to the draft process. He flashes on tape and he had a decent output his senior year, but he was overshadowed by more dynamic DTs from the SEC.
Butler has the chance to use the Draft Process spotlight to show he’s more than just flashes and has the skills to contribute to an NFL defense.
The New York Giants have invested heavily in their defensive line, but a lot of them could use some depth this year. Could Butler catch the Giants’ eye as a potential interior disruptor?
Perspective: Matthew Butler (94)
Games watched: vs. South Alabama (2021), vs. Pittsburgh (2021), vs. Ole Miss (2021), vs. Missouri (2021)
Height: 6 feet, 3 1⁄2 inches
Weight: 299 pounds
Games played: 44
Tackles For A Defeat: 16.0
Forced Fumbles: 2
Passes defended: 3
Games played (begins): 13
Tackles For A Defeat: 8.5
Forced Fumbles: 1
Passes defended: 0
Better: Instant Sync, First Pitch, Burst Up, Hand Use, Versatility
Worse: High speed, change of direction
Projection: Rotating inside defensive lineman in one-spread offensive defense
(Butler is the number 94 defensive tackle)
Tennessee defensive tackle Matthew Butler is an experienced defenseman with the ability to be disruptive at the NFL level.
Butler is a fifth-year senior who has seen playing time in each of his five years at Tennessee. He also saw an increase in production each year in college, which is evidence of improvement over his college career.
Butler times opponents’ snaps very well and is usually the first player to move to the defensive side of the ball. He has a very good initial burst of the ball and is able to overwhelm blockers when attacking gaps. Butler shows good lower body flexibility and is able to sit low in his stance and play with good initial leverage.
He shows a variety of strategies for winning with the use of his hand, showing both swimming and tearing motions, as well as a good bullrush. Butler understands how to rush with a plan and is quick to resort to countermoves if his initial rush fails, and he shows great competitive tenacity when fighting blocks.
Butler is a capable running defender when used as a wide defender. He does a good job of extending his arms, pressing down on the blockers to create separation, and then getting his hips into the space he’s responsible for. He has the playing strength to make plays in the running game against blockers in one-on-one situations. Butler also shows good motor skills in chasing the ball carrier.
But while Butler has a great first step and a great initial run, he kicks into high gear very quickly. He lacks speed and is slow over any distance. This can make it difficult for him to continue plays from the back and ball carriers who escape his initial run can usually pass him without issue. Although he has a good overall length at (nearly) 6-foot-4, his arms are shorter, which can give athletic offensive linemen or longer limbs an advantage.
Likewise, Butler may struggle to win extended reps if he is unable to win with his initial pass rush. And while he can physically block double teams, he doesn’t show the ability to split them or otherwise beat them.
Overall score: 7.0
Matthew Butler projects best as a spinning defensive tackle in a wide offensive defense. It has enough versatility to be relatively diverse and should be able to fit into a 3 or 4 man front, or a modern “multiple” or “hybrid” front.
Butler shouldn’t be asked to always face double teams or two spreads, but he can play just about any lineup that only asks him to defend (or attack) a single spread. He’s at his best in obvious passing situations when he can use his instant timing and explosive first step to attack in the backfield. Between his brilliance and his surprisingly good use of the hand, Butler can be a legit handle for most blockers to deal with in one-on-one situations. He is often the first person to move on defense and often the first person (other than the center) to move on either team after the snap.
Butler hasn’t racked up eye-popping stats at Tennessee, but he has the characteristics of a player that teams can turn down the field in place of a starter and not see a meaningful demotion. He could even prove to be a good value pick and a disruptive player if allowed to maximize his skills as a pass rush specialist early in his career.