2018 is a very important year for the Carolina Panthers defensive tackle….
Vernon Butler. Some of you may have heard the name, while others may have not.
For those who have not, he was the Carolina Panthers first-round pick in the 2016 Draft when he went No. 30 overall. The former Louisiana Tech product had 50 tackles and three sacks as a senior in 2015 and was named to the All-Conference USA first team.
In his rookie year, he made an impact. Totaling five tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass deflection in 10 games those numbers did not pop off the page, but even still they showed he could put together a modest amount of production. In the 2017 campaign, he numbers increased slightly. Recording no sacks but eight tackles in 14 games, he still put together a decent season.
In Friday’s Grill Bill segment, Bill Voth was asked if Butler would become more of a factor in 2018.
"Carolina’s first-round pick in 2016 knows it’s time to make an impact. Injuries have slowed him, and through two seasons he’s recorded 26 tackles and 1.5 sacks (zero sacks in 2017). Butler, who will rotate in behind Short and Poe, has all the tools. Coaches have been encouraged by his work ethic. Now it’s all about the production."
It will be no small task trying to get playing time behind Kawaan Short and Dontari Poe. After all, those guys are proven veterans who have become staples of the defense. In that respect, I think it is fair to say he suffers from a bit of a disadvantage here. However, if he can continue to play with that high motor, I can see him becoming more of a factor.
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Assuming he can stay healthy, Butler would be the perfect complementary piece to Short in particular. Butler is penciled in at the No. 2 right defensive end spot behind Short per the most recent depth chart from Ourlads.
I am not going to say that he is in danger of getting cut or anything like that. To do so would be very premature. I do think that Butler has to play well this season if he wants to be considered a staple on the roster. This is where his health will be a huge factor. Although injuries are not his fault, we have seen time and time again in the National Football League players get replaced due to injury as teams look to fill that void quickly.
Butler seems like the perfect fit in Eric Washington’s defense as he plays aggressively and has a nose for the football. 2018 will be a make or break year for Butler and this is the year he will have to show the Carolina Panthers what he is made of.