• Rookie Scouting Report – Matthew Butler, IDL, Tennessee

    Embed from Getty Images

    As a preview of our 2022 Rookie Magazine, here is our Scouting Report Series. If you’d like to pre-order your copy of the Rookie Mag, click here!

    Player Introduction

    Matthew Butler is a run-stuffing defensive tackle with the ability to provide a pass rush from the interior. He is a versatile interior defensive lineman who can kick out to the defensive end when needed.

    While Butler may not be an elite prospect, he has improved every season at Tennessee and really made a big improvement jump under the tutelage of defensive line coach Rodney Garner. Butler has a good solid frame with length and as of now looks to be a solid mid-round selection on draft weekend.


    Height – 6’4”
    Hands – 9”
    Weight – 295 lbs
    Arms – 33½”
    Speed – 5.08 sec
    Wing Span – 81⅛" 


    Notable Headlines

    Butler was a talented interior defensive lineman in Tennessee and is now a prospect preparing for the NFL draft. He a four-star prospect out of Garner Senior High School in North Carolina. Butler led his high school to a 12-2 record with an appearance in the regional semifinals.

    He finished his senior season with 96 tackles — including 44 TFLs and 26 sacks — and was named to the 2016 North Carolina Associated Press All-State Class 4A Team. After a senior season that impressive, Butler chose to commit to the Tennessee Volunteers.

    His early years with the Volunteers were spent mostly being a backup and low on the depth chart, which is not uncommon for a lot of players. In his freshman and sophomore (17’-18’) years, Butler played in a combined 17 games, totaling just 17 tackles and one TFL. 

    In his junior year, Butler was awarded a much bigger role. He started four games and played in all 13 games as a major contributor to the defensive line. On the season, Butler recorded 45 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and 2 PBUs.

    As a senior in the 2020 shortened covid season, Butler put together a very comparable season to his 2019 season. In 10 games, all starts, he played 499 defensive snaps, while recording 43 tackles — 3 for a loss — 2 sacks, 1 PBU, and 1 forced fumble.

    After two ho-hum seasons, Butler came back as a super senior, to improve his draft stock. Under D-line coach Rodney Garner, Butler put together quite the season, especially as a pass rusher. He started all 13 games, playing 726 defensive snaps, while producing career highs in tackles (47), TFLs (8½), and sacks (5), with one forced fumble.

    In his career in Tennessee, Butler played in 53 total games and started in 26. In those 53 games, he recorded 152 tackles —68 solos and 16 for a loss — with 9½ sacks, 3 PBUs, and 2 forced fumbles.

    Embed from Getty Images

    Scouting Report


    Butler is a versatile large-framed defensive lineman with extremely good length and power. He does a good job of using that length, power, and leverage to hold blockers, then stack and shed (bench press). Butler is a stingy run-stopper who has recently developed a sneaky good pass rush from the interior.

    His good hand placement and burst off the snap allow him to routinely win in one-on-one matchups. Butler possesses a solid toolbox full of pass rush moves and the football IQ to understand how and when to use them.

    Butler is experienced and plays well in both 3 and 4 techniques, and can play the 5-technique solidly. He has a very good initial burst and times the opponent snaps extremely well, which allows him to quickly gain the advantage over opposing blockers.

    Butler has a strong base and can anchor down, closing off any potential running lanes. He plays with a high motor and excels as a one-gap defender. Butler knows his limitations and has the awareness and willingness to change, when initial moves aren’t working. His effort and work ethic are elite.



    While Butler displays the physical traits to beat blockers off the snap, his secondary moves can be lacking at times. While you like his burst off the snap, Butler doesn’t possess the change-direction or pursuit speed to run down plays.

    With that, Butler doesn’t play as well in space as you would like, which allows speedy, quick, twitchy backs to beat him fairly easily. This also leads to him missing a number of tackles.

    He has good length but can struggle with athletic, long-limbed offensive linemen, especially when they lock on their blocks. Speaking of blocks, Butler struggles with double teams, which isn’t uncommon but needs to improve. There will be questions if he was just a one-year guy last season or if he can replicate that success at the pro level.


    Pre-Draft Analysis

    Expected Draft Capital – Fourth Round
    Expected Role – Solid rotational player/backup

    Potential Landing Spots

    It’s always tough to predict where a player will land, but I have a few teams for Butler that I feel would be excellent landing spots. With his experience and versatility to play all along the interior defensive line, there should be multiple suitors for his services. A player like Butler can be a valuable addition to any team and in any scheme.

    One potential landing spot for Butler would be the New York Giants, who don’t have a lot of depth along their interior defensive front. The Giants could use an interior presence to play between stars Leonard Williams and Azeez Ojulari. Butler can be a nice rotational piece for New York and upgrade their defensive line group.

    Another landing spot for Butler that I feel would make sense, would be the Pittsburgh Steelers. Outside of star Cameron Heyward, the Steelers have an unimpressive defensive line group. A player like Butler who can stop the run and provide a pass rush from the inside would open up a lot of things for the rest of that defense. 

    Thanks for reading my article. I am a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers of America). You can read more of my articles on my author page at IDP Guys. Follow me on Twitter at @HollywoodTitan, on Facebook on my IDPNation page, on Reddit in the fantasy football IDP sub — I’m user KingTitan1 — and tune in each week and listen to IDP Nation and Devy IDP Grind, the podcasts that I co-host, on several different platforms. Feel free to hit me up with any questions that you have, as I’m always glad to help fellow IDPers. #IDPNation #IDP #IDPDevy.

  • Back to top