2016 NFL Draft: Round-by-Round Mock for 49ers
Round 2, Pick 37: Vernon Butler, DL, Louisiana Tech
Defensive tackle is not the largest need for the 49ers at this point. They’ve re-signed Ian Williams, though that contract was reduced thanks to questions about his health. They also re-signed Tony Jerod-Eddie, a valuable member of the rotation.
As I was mocking the draft, I was hoping to use this pick on the offensive line, but a run of linemen just before the 49ers were on the clock, ending in Indiana tackle Jason Spriggs coming off the board, ended that hope. I considered going for a skilled wide receiver to give Goff someone to throw to, but Baylor’s Corey Coleman ticked off the board.
Rather than reaching for an offensive player who isn’t worth the pick, then, why not add some strength to strength and build up the defensive trenches some? There’s quite a few very good linemen who could be available near the top of the second round—it’s a fairly deep draft for defensive linemen.
I’m quite fond of Vernon Butler from Louisiana Tech; he’s athletic, with a combination of power and quickness you don’t often see in someone who’s 6’4” and 323 pounds. He’s very good at pass rushing for an interior lineman, with a nice swim move and explosion once he gets through a blocker. He’s versatile, too, as he played every spot on the defensive line at Louisiana Tech. With his 35-inch arms, he can generate great leverage and power at the point of attack. Frankly, I think he’s underrated.
He’s probably a nose tackle in the 49ers’ 3-4 system, though I could see him moving to end at times in various packages. No, he doesn’t fill one of the 49ers’ biggest needs, but building a team through the trenches isn’t ever a bad idea, especially if the team would have to reach for a lesser player to fill a greater need.
Other players considered:
- A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
- Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
- Sterling Shephard, WR, Oklahoma
Next: Round 3, Pick 68