The San Francisco 49ers are doing some extensive work on Louisiana Tech defensive lineman Vernon Butler, according to Eric Branch. The 49ers beat writer is reporting the team has "talked extensively" with Butler and the Louisiana Tech coaching staff this offseason, including a "long visit" during the Louisiana Tech Pro Day on March 22.
Butler is a monster of a man, standing 6'4 and weighing 323 pounds, with 35 1/8" arms. For the 49ers purposes, he seems best suited as a 3-4 defensive end who could move inside to defensive tackle in the nickel. There is a ton of upside with Butler, but he did not produce huge numbers in college. That's certainly not the end of the world, but it is something that will probably slow some teams from grabbing him. Of course, that could be right up Trent Baalke's alley, given his love of projects.
Butler is projected as a late first or early second round pick. The 49ers current defensive line likely includes Arik Armstead and Quinton Dial outside, and Mike Purcell at nose tackle while Ian Williams rehabs his ankle surgeries. Tony Jerod-Eddie, Kaleb Ramsey, Garrison Smith, and Tank Carradine (in nickel) are some additional options, with Glenn Dorsey eventually returning from his torn ACL. Adding a guy like Butler is a gamble given his relative lack of production in college, but he's a big upside guy if the team cannot land DeForest Buckner in the first round.